Music Writing about Images

Foo Fighters break big at Saddledome

Nixon_2015-08-13-181Dave Grohl gets back to playing sat down

Dave Grohl has had to get accustomed to sitting down to play again. He used to do it all the time when he was the drummer with Nirvana in the early 1990s. But then, on June 12 this year he took a fall, off the stage, at a gig in Gotenburg, Sweden. The Foo Fighters frontman broke the fibula in his right leg. Somehow that gig got closed out using what W.C. Fields would call medicinal alcohol but the European leg of the tour got held up. Fortunately for the band’s fans in Canada and the USA, the pain of pinning back the bone was cast aside and Grohl found a way get back on tour. The solution was a “guitar stool”. Of sorts. This one though came with big flashing lights, a “FF” logo at the back and built on a chassis that looked like it was snatched off a Dalek from an episode of Doctor Who.  For last night’s gig at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Dave Grohl made much of his contact with his fans by gliding up and down a track along a central pier strutting out from the main stage.

Grohl’s efforts were appreciated by, what he repeatedly acknowledged to be, the loudest audience on the entire Foo Fighters World Tour. This fan certainly agrees that the noise level created by the fans with no music amplification whatsoever, was right up there in terms of the decibels felt when the Calgary Flames get a play off goal. It was puck ripping loud!

Dave Grohl performs from his customized guitar stool at the Scotiabank Saddledome, Calgary © J. Ashley Nixon
Dave Grohl performs from his customized guitar stool at the Scotiabank Saddledome, Calgary
© J. Ashley Nixon

Everlong to Best of You

As Dave Grohl appeared on stage he offered up what could be a long gig. Given that the Foo Fighters are celebrating 20 years, “we have a lot of songs to play” he said. Not one hour, not two hours but more. He didn’t break his promise. From a kicking start up with Everlong, Monkey Wrench and Learn to Fly through to the closing with Best of You, Foo Fighters powered their way through an impressive set of 23 numbers from across their recording career.

Times Like These

Just a few (Something from Nothing, Congregation and Outside) were from their current (2014) album, Sonic Highway. Then there was an acoustic section played out at the end of their foot bridge with Grohl using crutches to walk. He used one to conduct the audience too. My Hero had the whole stadium singing along with the chorus. And, very special to Calgary Flames fans, Times Like These, was played right there beneath the scoreboard/clock (now the ENMAX Energy Board) in the way that we used to hear at the start up of NHL hockey games in the ‘Dome.

A couple of covers

As well as a few riffs and bars from some other performers during the band introductions, The Foo Fighters mixed in a couple of excellent cover versions. One was the 1981 hit Under Pressure by Queen and David Bowie, with lead vocals from drummer, Taylor Hawkins (Grohl said he recruited him via a newspaper advert that asked for a drummer “that can sing like Freddy Mercury”). Hawkins also led on voice with a version of Miss You by the Rolling Stones. A funky number that might suggest more in that field for the Foo Fighters in the future?

Walk. Run

Given the circumstances, Walk (lyrics: “I’m learning to walk again…”), from the 2011 album Wasting Light, just had to be included in the set. These Days, from the same studio recording, also featured with some adjustments to the lyrics to fit in with Grohl’s fracture narrative, amply displayed in a run through of some big screen visuals (“my Power Point slide presentation”, Grohl called it), including the before and after X-ray pics. The set also included a number that the band hadn’t played for a long time, Wind Up, from their second album, The Color and the Shape that also features Everlong, Monkey Wrench and My Hero. Grohl described this one affectionately as “so 1997”. Even more nostalgic was This is a Call, the first single from the Foo Fighters self-titled debut album in 1995.

Fractured view: X-ray of Dave Grohl's fibula show from the stage (un-attributed photo)
Fractured view: X-ray of Dave Grohl’s fibula show from the stage (un-attributed photo)
Sketch drawn by Dave Grohl, showing his seating concept to continue with the Foo Fighters World Tour (copy of photo shown from the stage)
Sketch drawn by Dave Grohl, showing his seating concept to continue with the Foo Fighters World Tour (copy of photo shown from the stage)

The verdict

An epic gig (2.5 hours) from the Foo Fighters sampling their good stuff created between 1995-2014. My top three picks:

#1: Times Like These.  Hearing the acoustic version of this song live in the home of the Calgary Flames was brilliant. The best of the night.

#2: All My Life. This one began with a bit of a crowd teaser…Dave Grohl asked the audience if they wanted a classic rock song or one of their hits? A clear verdict came up from the floor for a hit but there was a short intro to Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven. But that didn’t advance and the band ploughed into their first single from One by One (2002). Good choice crowd!

#3: Best of You. The Foo Fighers closed out the Saddledome show with a long version of the first single from their 2005 album, In Your Honor, including a reflective bluesy guitar interlude and some deep audience participation in the simple chorus line. A superb ending guys.

The verdict: Great Gig, Foo Fighters!

More photos

For more photos from this and other music gigs, please visit J. Ashley Nixon Photography

Dave Grohl, Foo Fighters © J. Ashley Nixon
Dave Grohl, Foo Fighters
© J. Ashley Nixon





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