Sunday, 3 July 2011


Venue: The National Bowl, Milton Keynes
Support: Biffy Clyro / Jimmy Eat World / The Hot Rats
Phil W.

Every now and then it’s nice to take in a local gig rather than always heading down to London - I’ve been telling my editor for months I’ll get round to reviewing more local gigs so when some American band called the Foo Fighters announced they’d be playing a gig just round the corner from the Furzton Lodge where my brother and me regularly meet up for a pint, we thought we might pop along and see what they sounded like.

I was vaguely aware I’d caught them live a handful of times around a decade ago and they sounded pretty decent then and they had a record called The Color And The Shape which I’d liked a lot when it came out. I know since then they’ve picked up a few more fans - somehow this dude called Dave Grohl, who used to drum for popular beat combo Nirvana before front man Kurt Cobain met with an unfortunate accident with a shotgun in his garage, has put together a band that’s reached mass appeal with everyone from the toughest rocker to the trendiest grandparents all wanting in on his shows. Reportedly some 65,000 people had descended that warm Sunday afternoon to watch Dave’s rock n roll band so it was lucky he chose the large outdoor oval we like to call our National Bowl for the gig. I know we’d have loved to have him play our gig nights down at the Slug (every second Thursday of the month dudes!!) but I don’t think we’d have been able to fit everyone inside. (Sorry Chad, we didn’t even try to ask them! I think we may have dropped the ball on that one.)

The entertainment all kicked off around 4:30 with first support act The Hot Rats - a covers band duo formed by Gaz Coombes and Danny Goffey of UK act Supergrass. They got everyone in the mood with a set of seventies standards churned out with a massive Jack White style guitar sound and they were followed by Arizona pop-punks Jimmy Eat World that similarly worked the crowd as everyone baked in the afternoon sun. Between acts we got beer and Chinese food and then settled down for a great set from Scottish rockers Biffy Clyro. I remember seeing these guys play the Soundhouse in Northampton a few years back before they had a record out, sharing the stage with now defunct MK band Noon Layer Drive, so it was nice to see them come back and play a Milton Keynes gig and they seemed to go down well with a lot of the audience. I dug them a lot but, after their set as I stood in the men’s urinals and unconsciously listened in to the conversation of the guy relieving himself next to me, I heard him say “I feel bad for the Foo Fighters really, they’ll never be able to follow a set like that!” Now I’d seen the Foos ten years ago and they put on a pretty decent show then and was already sure the band would do pretty well tonight.

I wasn’t wrong. Don’t get me wrong, I dug the Biffy Clyro set but Dave’s rock n roll band really did go down a storm performing what I might describe as a truly awesome set. Now I know I use words like “awesome” and “legendary” quite a lot but I tell you it’s not my fault if the world is generally so awesome and legendary on such a regular basis, the whole thing is out of my control. Seriously dude, I live in Milton Keynes! And what could be a more awesome way of telling you how awesome and legendary this gig was than by writing it all down in a list??

10 Awesome Reasons Why The Foos Were Truly Awesome And Legendary On Sunday Night

1. They played This Is A Call! Dude!

2. Dave Grohl!! (see later list)

3. They played Monkey Wrench!! Dude!!!

4. Pat Smear!!

5. They played Stacked Actors!!! Dude!!!

6. The stage! It had these really groovy cylindrical shaped lights with screens on them and they moved around and somehow made the stage seem big and small all at the same time! Genius!

7. Seasick Steve!! There was an awesome moment when Dave welcomed Seasick Steve to the stage! Then he introduced John Paul Jones and then he asked if he could get behind the drums! As a bewildered Seasick Steve took on the role of front man with his three string guitar he said “ya know, five years ago I didn’t even have a job! And now I’m gonna play with Dave Grohl and John Paul Jones and to all you guys! I tell ya, anything can happen!” before playing Dog House Boogie.

8. The runway!! Straight down the middle of the pit, all the way to the sound desk was a runway that Dave energetically ran back and forth along. I tell you, for a 42 year old he’s got a hell of a lot of energy! On the other side of the sound desk was a second stage where Dave could say hi to the people at the back from and play his guitar from. At one point the three guitarists had a duel, one on each corner of the stage and Dave out on his little stage in the middle of the audience. Awesome!!

9. Butch Vig!! The dude came on stage and said hi to the audience at Dave’s request!

10. Taylor Hawkins and all the rest of the Foos!! This may have been an arena gig but this was definitely not a show, it was a gig. For all the flashing lights it was just a band rocking out, playing rock n roll from a stage covered in amps. Even the keyboard player got an intro from Dave.

11. For an encore they played Everlong!!!! Dude!!!!! :-D

5 Awesome Reasons Why Dave Grohl Is Awesome

1. The dude spent the whole gig with the biggest grin on his face and his mood was infectious – throughout the gig the whole band grinned, laughed, joked and hugged each other. Cool people tend not to grin, you’ve gotta be
übercool to pull off the grin. You know, the kind of cool where you really just don’t care about being cool cause you know, if you care you just aren’t cool anymore.

2. He told everyone repeatedly how much he loved them. I know there were 64,999 other people there but he made me feel special. Not a lot of entertainers can do that. Not many can include the whole audience in the collective feeling of being at a gig rather than watching one happen far away.

3. At some point he gushed in front of the audience and said “you know, you guys have always treated us like we’re the biggest band in the world. You know, I start to wonder, maybe tonight we ARE the biggest band in the world.” Somehow he still seemed humble when he said this.

4. The dude plays a mean guitar and writes a mean song, effortlessly combining the angst and the upbeat without ever sounding clichéd.

5. Dude, the dude played in Nirvana!

In the end, it was Dave Grohl’s ability to work 65,000 people and make them all seem included in the magic that turned this gig from a vast arena concert into an intimate gig with your mates Dave and Pat and Taylor and all the other Foos. I walked away feeling like I knew the guy - he was like an old friend I hadn’t seen in years. Sure, he got really popular sometime back and after that I didn’t see him as often, bands never seem as cool once your parents want to go to their gigs, but as he debated over the big screens from back stage how many songs the band should play in the encore I felt like my screams mattered, that he was at least partly talking to me. As he stood on his little stage out in the audience he said “you know, you all feel like family to me! This doesn’t seem weird! I just love you guys!” Dave is the final proof that nice guys can finish first, they may not do it as often as the nasty ones but when they do they seriously kick ass! What can I say – Dave, man, you’re a dude!