23 Feb 2019
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Gig Review: Foo Fighters @ Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland - 03/02/2018

04 Feb 2018 // A review by Paul Goddard

It had been raining on and off for most of the day but just as Wellington band Ayn Randy took the stage the heavens opened. It set the scene for what was going to be an awesome night where the weather played a big part in the memories of the 40,000 people packed into Auckland's Mount Smart Stadium.

You probably haven’t heard of Ayn Randy and I am sure most of the people here tonight haven’t but the four-piece Wellington punk outfit do a good job of getting the fairly large early evening crowd in the mood. They play a fast punked up set that gets better as they find their feet. At times they do come across a little “rabbit in the headlights” and a bit of banter in between songs would have helped along with a bit more stage presence but hell that is a big stage to fill so fair play to them and I will be sure to check them out next time they play whammy.

Having Weezer as main support was a stroke of genius. They are the perfect opening band. I don’t own one record by Weezer but knew every song of this hit-packed set. Rivers was looking cool in his usual geeky style and guitarist Brian Bell walked out dressed in gumboots and a bright yellow raincoat. They were clearly enjoying themselves and seemed to be really buzzing about being on this tour with the Foos. Weezer classics like Undone-The Sweater Song and Hash Pipe get the crowd dancing and even the very apt new song, Feels Like Summer, had everyone smiling. Buddy Holly, Beverly Hills the list of hits is endless and they are delivered with the enthusiasm of a band who is playing them for the very first time. 2018 could be a great year for Weezer as they head off on tour with The Pixies and we are even treated to a faultless version of Where Is My Mind. I am sure it won’t be too long before they are back in NZ.

I have lost count of the number of times I have seen the Foo Fighters both here in NZ and overseas. The gigs here in NZ have been added to Foo folklore with Dave Grohl constantly telling interviewers around the world how their Auckland Super Top gig was the loudest crowd the band has ever heard (it was I was there) and relating the story of how their Western Springs gig a few years later set off the Earthquake alarms nearby. Then there was the video for These Days filmed in Auckland. So being at a Foo Fighters gig in NZ has kind of become obligatory if you are a rock fan.

I must admit, the last time I saw them at Mount Smart I got bored. The set was way too long and full of way too many fillers and covers but from the minute they hit the stage tonight, it was clear this was going to be something special. Maybe it was because the band knew that most of us had already been standing in the soaking rain for over 3 hours, maybe because this was the last night of the tour? Whatever the reason it was clear they weren’t here to mess around.

They open with Run and of course the crowd goes mental. It’s a great song and the perfect opener, straight into All My Life and we are getting warmed up. Dave lets us know that it’s going to be a long set (surprise) and we drop into Learning to Fly which is probably my least favourite Foo Fighter song. So at this point, I am thinking OK here we go again and I pull my bin bag around me a little tighter as the rain gets even harder.

Then the opening bars of The Pretender explode in and we are firing on all cylinders again, the rain even slows down and we see a glimmer of blue sky. The Sky is a Neighborhood follows and the connection between band and audience is solid. This is helped by the two huge HD video screens either side of the stage, the clarity shows eye contact between band members giving the crowd a feeling of what it is really like for them up on the stage.

The heavens open again on Sunday Rain, as Taylor Hawkins' kit rises above the stage. Time is flying by and this set isn’t dragging at all. Dave makes himself even more of a Hero to the faithful in the crowd by walking out along the catwalk in what is now a torrential storm to sing My Hero and this is the first of many memorable sing-a-long moments.

Dave Grohl, likes to play rock n roll. He also likes to talk and almost every song is followed by a story, comment or quip. It’s what makes the Foo Fighters the ultimate stadium band because he does it so well but just as I thought we had avoided the musical wankery things go a little bit erm cliched. We get the band intros with each member being asked for a solo. God I hate solos, we know you can all play but please just ditch it and give us another song. Then after 10 mins of intros to Rio by Duran Duran (yep really), Another One Bites The Dust (Queen) and Blitzkrieg Bop (Ramones) we get the full cover of Under Pressure with Taylor taking vocal duty while Dave drops back on drums. This has been a staple part of their set for years now and to be honest I wish they would just drop it. Then just as I think we are about to go down the route of acoustic songs and overindulgent jamming segments they launch into Monkey Wrench.

The crowd goes nuts and then they bring Rivers Cuomo out for a run through Kiss classic Detroit Rock City. The evening has been saved.

The encore starts with times like these and it was great to hear This is a Call played with as much energy as when it was first released back in 1995. Wheels was completely unnecessary and didn’t work at all but is soon followed by the legendary Everlong to finish the show.

Tonight the Foo Fighters have shown us why they are still the biggest rock band on the planet and this is in no short part due to latest album Concrete and Gold being a return to form. Tonight we have less filler and more killer and even though I think they would have been better off ditching the covers and extended jam segments and replaced them with songs like Arlandria or White Limo instead, there is a passion and drive in the Foo Fighters tonight that was missing last time they played here.

Foo Fighters gigs in New Zealand have become part of their folklore, there is a unique connection between band and audience here and even though tonight wasn’t the loudest and no earthquakes were started it will certainly be etched in the memories of 40,000 people who witnessed the Foos in top form. As Dave says, “Where do we go from here?”, only he knows but whatever direction they take it will lead them back to New Zealand.


Review written by Paul Goddard
 

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