What a great bloke Dave Grohl is! That was the overwhelming impression that the majority of the people packed into AMMI stadium were left with at the conclusion of the Foo Fighters’ second Melbourne show on their 2023 Australian tour. The Chicago area native who rose to the height of ‘90s grunge heights as the drummer of Nirvana just gets better and better as time goes on, both musically and as an example of gratitude and resilience.
Now consider the fact that the Foo Fighters have been a band for almost 30 years – that’s three years longer than Kurt Cobain was alive. Incredible how time seems to move faster the older we get. The demographic was primarily Gen-X and their children with a smattering of those in between, so it made sense that the music on the menu for the evening spanned the generations. The opening act Teenage Joans, a punk rock duo from Adelaide with attitude, were suitably reverent and appreciative of the moment and performed a blistering set in the blazing late afternoon sun. Sunny Coast natives The Chats took the punk rock baton from Teenage Joans and ran with it straight into their opener “Nambour.” While Teenage Joans were on the indie pop side of punk, The Chats were certainly on the thrash pop side and throwing bass into the equation certainly beefed up the bottom end. With no frills action reminiscent of the Cosmic Psychos, there was more enough to keep the oldies in the crowd interested and the youngsters suitably excited, especially since they saved their urban classics “Smoko” and “Pub Feed” to close the set.
As the sun began to sink behind AAMI Stadium and the golden hues reflected off the buildings in the Melbourne skyline, The Foo Fighters, led by Grohl and his band of musical brothers Chris Shiflett, Nate Mendel, Pat Smear and Rami Jaffee emerged side stage with a new face, veteran session drummer Josh Freese. The collective we were anticipating the absence of the late Taylor Hawkins to hit the heart at this point, but as the intro to “All My Life” sounded and Dave Grohl’s cheeky grin lit up the gigantic screens on either side of the stage, everything seemed right again. Having been at the now legendary gig in Geelong in March 2022 that saw Taylor Hawkins play his fourth last ever show, it was evident that music is the great healer and that this show was going to be a celebration of life. After ripping through “No Son of Mine” Grohl paused to ask the rhetorical question “Do you love rock’n’roll?”. Without waiting for an answer, he continued “Guess what – I got your rock ‘n’ roll right here mother fuckers!” and proceeded to segue into the intro of the Bon Scott era AC/DC’s “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap”. It may have been just a teaser but it was a tip of the hat to the band that spent the majority of the ‘70s just a few kms down the road in East St Kilda. Grohl was not kidding when he said “we’re going to play as many songs as we can from the last 28 years. We’re gonna clobber these motherfuckers!” as he smacked his trademark gum with fervour before breaking into “Times Like These” and Generator”.
It sure was a night for the hits with highlights being “My Hero”, “Learn to Fly” and “Monkey Wrench” before a heartfelt dedication of “Aurora” to Hawkins proclaiming that they were going to play that song every show for the rest of their lives and play it for him as the image of a hawk ‘s silhouette projected out from the rear of the stage. The acoustic portion of the evening included “Ballad of the Beaconsfield Miners”, the song born from the tragedy in northern Tasmania back in 2006 and a song from their latest album, “Nothing At All” featuring a snippet of the Beatles’ “Blackbird” before breaking out into a full band crescendo. Bringing out the big guns to close the set with “This Is A Call” and “Best Of You” whipped all and sundry into a frenzy as they waited in anticipation for an encore. The first of which, “The Teacher”, was a tad self indulgent but after giving their all for the last two and a half hours they were more than deserving of some jam time. They definitely saved the best for last, closing out the night with the Epic “Everlong” from “The Colour and The Shape” and just as well because it couldn’t be topped. The Foo Fighters obviously love touring Australia and after this their 13th, the love is certainly reciprocated.