Foo Fighters’ Roxy Livestream Perfectly Captured The Power Of Live Music
“This is usually the moment in the song where everybody sings along, but that requires people to actually, like, be here,” ponders Dave Grohl midway through Foo Fighters’ show at Los Angeles’ legendary Roxy, peering out from over the mic as his bandmates play out their parts in the ever-triumphant My Hero. “So, if you hate your fuckin’ neighbour, and you hate your fuckin’ roommates, I want everybody to sing My Hero by yourself, in front of your fuckin’ iPad! I know it seems embarrassing, but you can only imagine what it’s like being on this stage and pretending like there’s people here…”
Obviously, Kerrang! have no way of confirming whether or not the thousands behind their screens have obeyed Dave’s charmingly self-conscious plea in this review. Sorry about that. But, for the few staff that are in the room with the rock titans during their first-ever livestream, what can be heard are roadies and camera crew belting along that fists-in-the-air line: ‘There goes my hero / Watch him as he goes…’ It’s just one of many truly special moments tonight that not only showcase Foo Fighters as the effortlessly incredible live band we’ve all seen a hundred times before, but that the power of live music can never, ever be hindered – even when we’re not all allowed to be in the same room together to experience it.
Of course, Dave was reluctant to do anything of this nature at first. He explains later on in the set that his initial thoughts when “everyone started doing these livestream and drive-through things” this year was simply, “Fuck. This. Shit.” But, as they settle into their groove at The Roxy across a 90-minute masterclass in playing live, the pure glee that the Foo Fighters exude proves that pretty much nothing else in the world beats strapping on an instrument and singing your heart out.
Hilariously, the set doesn’t start particularly smoothly, though. After a pre-show ‘Beer’s-Eye-View’ of the venue courtesy of a travelling can of Coors Light, the band, um, take to the stage without even realising that the stream has started…
“Is someone gonna cue us when we’re actually on camera?” asks Dave blankly. “Oh, is it on right now? We’re live?! This is it! Alright (laughs). We made it. Hey, everybody! Welcome to our live internet concert at The Roxy tonight. I had this big introduction ready to go – I didn’t realise we were already on… So let’s just pretend like it just turned on, right? Ladies and gentlemen, the Foo Fighters.”
Joined by a four-person choir including Dave’s own daughter Violet, the band launch into a surprise teaser intro for new song Making A Fire, before segueing perfectly into the chugging All My Life. The frontman yells his usual expletives (“Alright, motherfuckers!”) as the single hits its climax, and what’s immediately clear is that we have never seen the Foo Fighters like this before. Where normally you’d be standing behind 50,000 other bouncing fans craning their necks to get a glimpse, tonight you’re practically onstage with them, right up beside guitarist Pat Smear pulling cheeky faces at the camera, and Dave waving his hair about wildly, and feeling every drum fill that Taylor Hawkins knocks out.
A typically explosive The Pretender arrives next, before the skyscraping The Sky Is A Neighbourhood and unbeatable sing-along of Times Likes These, with Foos clearly enjoying the rush of performing live together again, barely taking a second to pause. Having recently told Kerrang! that he “really took the live show into consideration” when writing Foos’ latest material, it’s little wonder that new single Shame Shame then slots into this expertly-paced setlist wonderfully, before These Days, a life-affirming Learn To Fly, and This Is A Call follow.
“…When this whole thing went down, I was like, ‘No, man, I’m not doing it until we can go out and do it like that,’” says Dave of his reluctance to do a livestream during a pause in the set. “And then I realised, ‘You know what? The most important thing right now is to bring joy and happiness. Everybody needs a little moment, every day. You wake up and you look at your phone and you’re like, ‘Oh, fuck, what’s it gonna be right now?’ You hit the news thing, or you hit the text thing, and you’re like, ‘Urgh – anxiety, fuck that shit.’ You need joy; you need a little happiness. So, if we can’t be in each other’s face right now, I realised that this is what we need to do to bring the joy and happiness.”
And that’s really what this is all about. Yes, this is a killer-sounding set with fancy lights and a guest choir. And yes, the closing trio of Make It Right (a welcome addition to the 12-song set), Best Of You and Everlong are an unbeatable way to round off any show by any band. But for both Foo Fighters and their fans, this is really all about joy and happiness.
“I do know that we will do it again, because we have to,” the frontman wrote in an impassioned thinkpiece about the power of live music back in May. “It’s not a choice. We’re human. We need moments that reassure us that we are not alone. That we are understood. That we are imperfect. And, most important, that we need each other.”
For now, a Foo Fighters livestream has more than filled that gap. But god damn, it’s going to be glorious when we can do it again for real.
Foo Fighters at The Roxy setlist:
1. All My Life (with Making a Fire teaser intro)
2. The Pretender
3. The Sky Is A Neighborhood
4. Times Like These
5. Shame Shame
6. My Hero
7. These Days
8. Learn To Fly (with Holding Poison teaser outro)
9. This Is A Call (with No Son of Mine teaser outro)
10. Make It Right
11. Best Of You
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