The text for the opening salvo of the Foo Fighters summed up a historic night and an extraordinary experience: “In times like these you learn to live again.”
The location was Madison Square Garden, the occasion? NYC’s first full capacity arena concert since the COVID-19 lockdown began in March 2020.
There was speculation by the public about New York guests modeled on Billy Joel and rumors about why an artist with regional ties like KISS or Bruce Springsteen did not reopen the world’s most famous arena. Even so, it was immediately clear that the Foo Fighters were the perfect choice for New Yorkers to celebrate the reopening of the city with a welcome infusion of community energy, camaraderie, and joy. The group’s perfectly crafted arena rock stylings are classic – and now 26 years old since their inception – the intensity and drive of many of the melodies, not to mention the counterbalanced by Dave Grohl’s irresistible shaggy charm and everyone’s stupidity The band’s high-octane energy devours them every live performance.
24 songs and more than two and a half hours of hits, covers and songs by Medicine at midnight, flew by. The opener “Times Like These” began with keyboardists Rami Jaffe and Grohl for a concentrated moment of calm intensity before kicking in, while the band demonstrated their musical honesty during “The Pretender” by doing a bit of Edgar Winter’s “Frankenstein. “At that time, the dynamic mid-tempo hit“ Learn to Fly ”was ready. Grohl was drenched in sweat and the exposed audience was more than enthusiastic.
The Medicine at midnight Melodies played were received almost as well as established hits, no small matter. “No Son of Mine”, a relentless Motörhead-inspired speedster with three female backing singers, was an arsonist and was in stark contrast to another new cut, “Shame Shame”, a frugal, percussive, slightly reggae-tinged song , which is a successful musical departure for the Foos. The powerful title song also exudes an 80s flair that still looks modern.
The show’s only special guest – unnecessary but excellent – was comedian Dave Chappelle, who joined the Foos as vocals for Radiohead’s classic “Creep”.
Arena rock with the charm and intimate aura of a garage band, Foo Fighters shone with hits like “My Hero”, “This is a Call” and “Best of You”.
The humor found in many of the band’s videos was expressed during an encore from their new disco “side project”, the Dee Gees, with a faithful and entertaining version of “You Should Be Dancing”. (A photo of Barry Gibbs ‘hairy face staring at the crowd from Hawkins’ kick drum.) Ultimate Californian boy Hawkins showed off his skills as a singer on Queens “Somebody to Love” (which the band reported on at their warm-up show last week ) with Grohl, who took over his former nirvana role as behind the drums, the female backing vocals once again added even more depth to the band’s already multi-layered instrumental skills.
The evening was also very emotional, probably for everyone in the arena. The Foos dedicated the show to Andy Pollard, their 12-year-old stage manager, who died on June 18. The Father’s Day show, announced just a few weeks earlier, also found many father-daughter and father-son duos. Hawkins embarrassed his young son with an intro that was shown on the big screen.
While proof of vaccination was required for entry, the logs for checking Vax status at MSG entrances were shoddy at best. The underlying gravitas of the evening – that almost 500 days had passed since a concert in the Garden and that more than 33,000 people died of COVID in New York City alone during this time – was not lost. Instead, the night served as a celebration of light at the end of the darkest tunnel, said Grohl with a grin: “That feels good and I think we should do that more often.”
Despite a small squad of anti-Vax demonstrators in front of the garden on the stage, Grohl only said: “Let’s keep our shit together. We can do it. “In conclusion, with her signature hit” Everlong “, Grohl’s lyrics could once again be seen as a symbol of the joyful return to a shared experience:” If everything could ever feel so real / If everything could ever be so good again. “
Foo Fighters Madison Square Garden Setlist, 6/20/21
Times like this
Learn to fly
Not my son
Heaven is a neighborhood
Medicine at midnight
Somebody to Love (Queen cover) (Taylor on lead vocals, Dave on drums)
Creep (Radiohead cover) (with Dave Chappelle)
My whole life
This is a phone call
Best of you
Making fire. Making
You Should Be Dancing (Bee Gees cover) (band debut)