Foo Fighters: A masterclass rock n’ roll show with a touch of circus

Foo Fighters at Rogers Arena, 9/8/18

Foo Fighters / Concrete and Gold Tour 2018 @ Rogers Arena in Vancouver B.C.
Photo by Ryan Johnson

There’s a reason the Foo Fighters have been filling big rooms for two and a half decades. Saturday night at Rogers was no exception, as they had the sold out crowd in the palm of their hands the whole night.

Foo Fighters kicked the night off with “All Night Light Long,” immediately followed by the night’s first of many anthem moments, “Learning To Fly.” This legendary six-piece are crowd-pleasing experts. In order to achieve the level of consistency their known for for over such a long stretch requires a lot from an artist in these times. Songwriting excellence and live performance chops are crucial, but these big rooms require more than a touch of theatre.

Dave Grohl set a massive expectation early, by claiming “It’s been a long time so we’re going to have to dance all fucking night. You ready. Motherfuckers?”

Foo Fighters / Concrete and Gold Tour 2018 @ Rogers Arena in Vancouver B.C.
Photo by Ryan Johnson

Some of the more theatrical and interesting moments included a rising drum tower that rose over 20-feet above Taylor Hawkins’ band mates before the accomplished drummer pounded on the skins for over 10 minutes. He eventually took the vocals on “Sunday Rain.” Other near-circus moments included an aborted bass-solo inspired cover of Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust,” and a bizarre audience participation attempt at the Queen/Bowie classic “Under Pressure.”

Foo Fighters / Concrete and Gold Tour 2018 @ Rogers Arena in Vancouver B.C.
Photo by Ryan Johnson

Lead man Grohl is the head showman, and reminded the crowd on umpteen occasions that they were at a “Rock & Roll Show.” The toll on Grohl’s vocals is apparent and the band trotted out three fine backup vocalists twice for new cuts off their latest release Concrete and Gold. Hawkins also eased the burden with some derivative Freddie Mercury sing-a-long yodelling.

The cliches were so frequent that it was hard to gauge irony. But we have to suspect there was some. Pat Smear had been ripping it up on guitar to Grohl’s right since the beginning (including early Nirvana days) and did so again tonight with the widest grin around, shared by the many thousands on the night.

The one cover that really came off this evening was a surprising rendition of Van Halen’s “Jump” sung to the music of John Lennon’s “Imagine.” It caused heads to be scratched, but really worked.

Foo Fighters / Concrete and Gold Tour 2018 @ Rogers Arena in Vancouver B.C.
Photo by Ryan Johnson

At the end of the night, the band powered through a long string of hits including highlights “Hero,” “Monkey Wrench,”  and This is a Call.”

The encore that was witnessed by virtually all of the patrons delivered on expectations with “Times Like These”and Everlong.” Here they put their heads down and played, and the songs were all that mattered.

The list of big-theatre moments (dry ice, dropped video screen ceilings, crazy lights and lasers) is truly impressive. But one might wonder for a band with so many power-rock hits, why not just let the music do a little more of the talking?

Foo Fighters / Concrete and Gold Tour 2018 @ Rogers Arena in Vancouver B.C.
Photo by Ryan Johnson