Live: Those about to rock
Friday 03 December 1999
THIS SIDE of the pond, most of us first encountered Dave Grohl when Nirvana performed "Smells Like Teen Spirit" on The Word. Flailing at his drums like Animal from The Muppets, he seemed like your stereotypical skin-beater; big heart, low IQ.
After Kurt Cobain's death in 1994, however, Grohl switched to guitar, settled on the Foo Fighters moniker, and quickly established himself as a songwriter. His band's eponymous 1995 debut was a solo record in all but name.
Four years on, Grohl is back with a new Foos' line-up and a third album, There is Nothing Left to Lose. Lyrically, it is preoccupied by questions of authenticity: for example, "Learning to Fly" seems to document his frustration with the vacuousness of Hollywood.
Tonight, Grohl took to the stage wearing a tight-fitting Seattle sweatshirt and told Brixton's faithful that "grunge was never born, so rock can never die". I couldn't gauge the level of irony in that platitude, but it was clear that neither he nor his audience had forgotten that grunge gained some impetus from an intrigued Blighty. As crowd-surfers rolled stage- ward like human tumbleweed, you could almost buy into the claim that rock still matters.
Which it does of course, because thirtysomethings and above forget that, for those fresh-faced moshers for whom year zero was Nevermind, the thrum of an electric guitar is a lot less passe. At Brixton, that generation gap was further emphasised when a gorgeous, understated version of "Ain't It the Life" met with less fervid applause than Grohl or this writer had anticipated.
Somewhat inevitably, the main set closed with "I'll Stick Around", still the Foos finest moment, and the song which prompted one critic to label them "the hardcore Beach Boys". Then, just as all seemed to be segueing to a predictable denouement, things got strange for the encores.
"Are you guys ready for something really cool?" asked Grohl. We were. Drummer Taylor Hawkins started hammering out the "thwack, thwack, oomph!" of Queen's "We Will Rock You", and suddenly there was Brian May, ludicrously anachronistic in his tight, black canvas jeans. What they actually played, though, was "Now I'm Here" from Queen's 1974 Sheer Heart Attack album, Hawkins eventually vacating his drum-stool to let Roger Taylor have a go.
Clearly, the Foos still know how to tap into the carnivalesque spirit on which youth thrives, but their rehabilitation of Freddie's former band- mates only served to highlight how, increasingly, rock is wasted on the old. "That's Brian fucking May up there," said Grohl.
I suspect Kurt Cobain might have said exactly the same - for entirely different reasons.
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Snoop Dogg and Jared Leto buy a stake in Reddit as A-list invests $50m
- 2 Prince held a Facebook Q&A and this is the only question he answered...
- 3 'F*ck it, I quit': KTVA reporter Charlo Greene quits live on air in spectacular fashion
- 4 35,000 walrus gather ashore on north-west Alaska beach 'for a rest'
- 5 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
Ed Sheeran dedicates song to David Cameron
Star Wars 7: David Fincher's sequel idea sounds a lot more intriguing
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'
Exclusive: 'Putin's Russia has been my biggest regret,' says Nato's outgoing Secretary General
The Osborne Ultimatum: Chancellor’s benefits freeze bombshell will affect ten million households
There’s no excuse for Dave Lee Travis’s behaviour, but we need to keep a sense of proportion
Should gay sex be illegal? 16% of Britons think so
Mark Reckless becomes second Tory MP to defect to Ukip in a month
Benefits 'smart cards' plan revealed by Iain Duncan Smith to stop claimants spending welfare money on alcohol
- < Previous
- Next >