With their new album 'Wasting Light' Foo Fighters have, according to frontman Dave Grohl, made a lot of new fans. So, for tonight's headline show at Milton Keyne's Bowl the band deliver a balanced set designed to appeal to "old fans who like the old stuff, and new fans that like the new stuff."
Grohl admits the band have been waiting "a long, long time" to play these Bowl shows, a brace of them, the first being tonight's with the whole thing repeated tomorrow.
Whilst the place is packed, it's clear that it's the classic FF material that gets the biggest response, and whilst newer fans bounce ecstatically along to the new material, it elicits a less enthusiastic response from the old timers. It always takes longer it seems for new Foo Fighters' songs to become yell along anthems than the three months the album has been out.
The band are clearly up for a pulsating show however, and so are the crowd who have been lolling in the sun since the gates opened. That's not strictly true, there were much fewer people in front of the stage for Western Australian openers Tame Impala who delivered a static performance of head nodding rock, and left before it got tedious, and even less for Bob Mould's DJ set.
Whilst the queues for the bars expanded, and the walkways became crowded, there were opportunities to enjoy the funfair, and a bite to eat, or buy some Foos' T-shirts from the many merchandise stalls.
Up on the banks of the bowl, the picnic blankets unfurled, and the suntan lotion came out, as Death Cab For Cutie took to the stage. I'd not seen them before, and took to them instantly from opener 'Doors Unlocked and Open' which got me bouncing along to them as I made for the bar to buy a pint of Gaymers (how the hell did this turgid cider become so popular?). A few songs in and 'Crooked Teeth' still held my attention.
By the time they close with 'Marching Bands of Manhattan' the crowd has hugely swelled, the toilet queues are long, and it's pretty impossible to move any closer to the stage through the tightly knit the crowd. However the further reaches, and lip of the Bowl are still easily navigable, and it's easy to get to the other, less busy, bar and avoid major queues.
It's good to hear the appreciative roar as Scottish quartet Biffy Clyro take to the stage. Clearly by the response, both them and tonight's headliners have a fair degree of fan cross over, although the occasional bottle is thrown disgruntedly towards the stage.
Opening with a rousing 'The Captain' the crowd are happy to join vocalist Simon Neil singing along to a set chock full of songs from 2009's 'Only Revolutions', clearly as support they weren't going to deliver many songs for those of us who have been watching them for years. There's also 'Living Is A Problem Because Everything Dies' and 'Who's Got a Match?' from 2007's 'Puzzle'.
At least we get 'Glitter and Trauma' from 'Infinity Land' (2004) and their second single, released almost a decade ago now, 'Justboy' and then we had a treat, "Here's a surprise" said Neil and unleashed a brand new unreleased new song. Before the anthemic closers of 'Many Of Horror' and closer 'Mountains' made more entertaining by an enthusiastic fan next to us emptying to bottles of wine over his head, and like him we're all pumped up and ready for the Foo Fighters.
There's an electric anticipation as the band take to the stage, and the banks of screens across the back of the stage flicker into life, and Grohl immediately jumps down and along the long finger of walkway poking through the crowded 'golden circle'.
The singer develops an instant raport with the crowd, and within seconds has them engaged with him, as they break into the opening tracks from the new album. The next two and a quarter hours fly by as we enjoy 'The Pretender', 'My Hero', 'Learn to Fly' and 'Breakout'.
Then there's a surprise, Grohl says gigs like this are great because you can invite guests along to play, and out pops Queen drummer Roger Taylor to deliver 2006's 'Cold Day in the Sun' with Taylor Hawkins on lead vocals. As Grohl points out we're now watching three drummers on stage at once.
'Long Road to Ruin' really gets the crowd going, and things move up a gear, as new song 'Dear Rosemary ' sees Husker Du legend Bob Mould join Chris Shiflett, Nate Mendel, and Pat Smear on stage. 'Monkey Wrench', 'Best of You' and 'All My Life' are well worked by Grohl for maximum singalong, and that concludes the main performance.
A night vision camera then broadcasts Hawkins and Grohl enjoying a post match beer and tease the fans with how many songs they might play as an encore. Before Grohl runs back out to a second stage behind the 'golden circle' and the sound desk to deliver a solo version of 'Wheels' and 'Times Like These' before the band join in back on the main stage.
We're expecting a final flourish of feel good encore tunes, but what happens next is a surprise. As Grohl introduces "Mr Alice Fucking Cooper" to the stage and they let him sing 'School's Out', terrific! My daughter has just left school, followed by a ballsy 'I'm Eighteen' before Grohl takes up mic duties for an emotional 'Everlong' and the fireworks close the show.
A fantastic night of top draw entertainment and everyone in the huge crowd walking out throuh the gates leaves happy. Once again The Bowl has delivered another memorable gig from a band at the top of their game. Foo Fighters have delivered a perfect mix, of old and new and added one big Alice Cooper shaped surprise. Their new material featured tonight stands up well to the old classics, and we can expect to hear many of them for years to come. What's amazing is the composite ease withwhich the band play together, and they make it look so effortless.
One things for sure their latest album clearly contains some tunes that work terrifically well live, and perhaps some of the strongest the band have written. Those not aired tonight are the ones that never sounded likely to make it to a live set. Tonight's set contains all the classic live tracks, I just wish they'd squeezed 'DOA' into it.
Learn to Fly
Cold Day in the Sun
Long Road to Ruin
Let It Die
Best of You
Skin and Bones
All My Life
Times Like These
Young Man Blues
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article by: Scott Williams
photos by: Zelah Williams
| published: 04/07/2011 09:38|