LIVE: FOO FIGHTERS + WEEZER
WHEN: SATURDAY, JANUARY 27TH 2018 • WHERE: ANZ STADIUM, SYDNEY REVIEW BY LACHLAN MARKS • PHOTOS BY BRITT ANDREWS
Hot off the heels of their 2017 album, ConcreteAndGold, the inimitable Foo Fighters took to a sold-out Sydney stadium with three hours of booming hooks and belting solos. In tow, a celebration of nostalgic power-pop from genre kings Weezer.
It’s an inspiring thing to do, playing to a crowd of early bird punters too busy trying not to spill a drop of beer or a few stray hot chips as they awkwardly navigate their way into stadium seating. Sydney four-piece The Preatures attacked their short opening set with the charisma of a headline show anyway.
Even though the response was mild at best, it was clear that the level of songwriting and professionalism on display was exactly why they scored the coveted slot opening for arguably the biggest rock band on the planet. It may only be something to tick off their bucket list in terms of career progression, as this very much felt like a crowd that only goes to one thing a year, but they showed that they are more than a worthy investment should those calendars open up to take in a second local show before 2019 rolls around.
There’s been a seismic shift in the popularity stakes since the famous North American “Foozer” tour of 2005, but if Californian nerd-rockers Weezer were at all jealous of their roadmates’ radio conquering glory, they didn’t show it. Their set was lean and joyous, focusing on the beloved cuts from their invincible BlueAlbum, peppered in-between with only a handful of their zanier new tracks and a well-oiled cover of The Pixies’ “Where Is My Mind?” that lifted from the monstrous PA and struck right for the feelings department. Though they knew their place and whipped through a 14-song set in a neat hour-long package, frontman Rivers Cuomo and guitarist Brian Bell weren’t above squeezing in a quick running race to the end and back of the Foo Fighters’ extended catwalk, which reached all the way to the end of the T-barrier, high-fiving fans and working up a sweat in their tailored suits.
In comparison, Dave Grohl looked positively down-to-earth when he gleefully ran onto the stage clad in black jeans and an Oxford Art Factory t-shirt, leading his three-guitar strong band with the high-energy kick of recent single “Run” (one of the better-loved cuts from last year’s ConcreteAndGold), then rolling into a
riotous double singalong of “Learn To Fly” and “The Pretender” that didn’t struggle to find willing participants.
The crowd was energised, the drums crisp and booming, the tri-guitar attack guitar big ’n’ bitey and Grohl’s rich scream seemingly endless, unleashed with an extraordinary level of confidence for a man who was commanding three hour sets for most nights that week. Everything was set for an amazing gig – if this was golf, it was a putt from five centimetres out. So how did this show end up in the, “Good… But not great” category?
The spanner in the works was that Dave and the boys really love to jam. Way too much. The set spanned 24 songs over three-plus hours, giving the average track length a minimum runtime of at least 7.5 minutes – banter additional. That’s a lot of cycles of pentatonic riffage pulled from elements that were only minor flourishes in their original songs, combined with endless drum and guitar solos and extended build-ups stretched far beyond the point of dramatic effect.
So, a lot of great songs sat on the bench. We did get at least one song off each of the first four albums (including a Sydney exclusive in the form of self-titled cut “Big Me”), but the focus – when they actually felt like playing songs – was on new material and one too many covers.
As musicians and performers, the Foos are unfaultable, and Dave Grohl is one of a select few performers who can command a sold-out stadium crowd and make them feel like he’s just a really fun guy holding court at the local pub.
Unfortunately, the kind of fun he and the band were no doubt having, indulging the urge to explore every sonic pathway that could be taken within their existing material, flipped what might have been the ultimate greatest hit spectacular into somewhat of endurance test. There was plenty to love and even more to like but sadly, plenty to be indifferent about also. Next time, Foo Fighters, let’s have The
ColourAndTheShape from start to finish, and THEN you can play medleys of all your favourite ‘70s rock classics. Deal?