There was a time when watching Foo Fighters play as headliners of the Big Day Out meant being punched in the shoulders as a couple of idiots kept slapping on stickers from some marketing brand again and again.
Ten minutes before ticket time, out come The Struts. The lead has a certain Noel Fielding charm with a catalytic Freddie Mercury air. Their first beats wash through with a glam track. The crowd falls in and they’re pulsing in the mosh area. Soon after the crowd is hungry and ready for more, willing to play along with the stadium division that happens, the left against the right and whatever is refuse down the middle chunk. Not many if any know what the lyrics are, but the flavour and energy is up. The stage is nothing but for The Struts now. Their Brit glam rock is full on and “Put Your Money On Me” is one that grabs the ear through a sea of elbows.
Right beside, an older gent tucks a cup of alcoholic beverage under his armpit. There is no more motion beyond keeping that beer afloat and well above spilling over. No, it will not be sitting in those cup holders situated at ankle height. That’s the stuff of standing in line behind 30 other people for the sake of watching a concert through the sounds of the cash register. The whole row makes it easier to feel exhausted watching a band with more years never once let up. Quite a few times the seats need to support a failing body too long in the wilderness of outside the front door.
Nothing less than waves and crashing on the shores as the Foo Fighters step out. They know where the audience is standing tonight so don’t pander with that bit about, “How you doing (insert current location)?” What they do do is acknowledge this is a make-up for having to cancel because of a family emergency. And from there it’s a force of juicing up for all the lost time and making sure ears walk out with rivulets of blood where sideburns may grow.
Taylor Hawkins sinks into a brutal and manic solo that goes on what feels like multiple minutes. Sweat trickles down. Waves of gasps and applause raucous through. By the end Hawkins is somehow boosted up metres in the air. The mayhem and the kinetic rhythm zoning out the now obvious mechanical structure jutting up on legs. Hawkins later takes vocals with The Strut’s Luke Spiller for a knuckle busting rendition of “Under Pressure”.
Security warns against taking any flash photography. So someone takes a flash video instead. There’s a light show with lasers and smoke machines and all that on stage and on just to the right the back of a few heads are lit up. Around a turn the band asks to drop the lamps as Grohl asks for the smartphones to up the arena instead, to see how much ambient light they can harness. It’s a lot. More than enough to flare the stage and see the licks on the guitar.
Three rows down and a plastic bag takes hold of an arm and rides it all long into the night. It’s a bulbous package and billows with each jump into the air. The arm attached never out of its sight. Swinging down, swinging out, there is nothing that the plastic bag will move out for. Even smashing its own face into a palm for many of the clap-alongs.
Choice tracks play off of Concrete and Gold but the night keeps it in the back catalogue. The ones that are familiar and play well. The ones that pry apart the vocal chords like “Monkey Wrench” and “This Is A Call”. It’s an enduring evening well to the point of midnight to reminisce about all that has made the Foo Fighters. It’s not all belting out at the skean of lungs. The cuts are as deep as being able to slice blood from the palm and being ready again to summon a spell next week out the side of a ‘67 Chevy Impala.
Solid three hours. They look primed for more. It’s a lot of catching up to do after the band makes it back from having postponed the night six months ago. Plenty are the digressions into the audience, weaving in songs that slow things down just enough to catch up with. There is a build up dripping in with chords into John Lennon’s “Imagine” before crossing over lyrics from Van Halen’s ode to Pitfall!, “Jump” instead.
The tease of the encore is standard as “they still have to play ‘Everlong’” wafts down from a few rows back. Four more songs to close out the closer of the night. They start with a song off Concrete and Gold and half of the next row clears out. They were here for the old hits, actively deafening themselves by not listening to the other three to follow.
No let up in pace, in humour, in keeping the language rife and yet friendly. Foo Fighters
Fleeting are the three hours of getting blind from the laser light show on the 1 May 2018 leg in section 25 of Rupp Arena in Lexington Kentucky.
Reviewed on Sunday, 13 May 2018