David Grohl, who has a beard, is quite clearly what you might call A Good Bloke. Never mind all that Nevermind whiny bollocks, his subsequent real band always were a proposition that took some of the friendlier riffs of the rockier side of Grunge and melded them with an unabashed love for classic rock and roll. What this means is that Foo Fighters are not just able but allow themselves to have fun.
Grohl’s popped up in the North a couplea times these last few days as it goes – initially, bouncing onto an Anfield stage alongside Paul McCartney to first fizz through a few riffs of Band On The Run alongside Macca, then to back him on the drumkit during Back In The USSR. The grin on Davey-boy’s face obviated any need for stagelights: it was obvious that a) in contrary to the famous Everton chant, someone in Anfield actually did know their history that night and b) that Grohl was transported back to something of a childhood fantasy. This is what it’s all about, he seemed to say, this rocks. And, of course, it did.
Around twenty hours later, The Grohlstar buzzed onto another enormo-stage forty-odd miles down the M62 for the Foos gig at the City Of Manchester Stadium. It is, beyond any question, a brill footy ground: sat in the main stand, the views were ace though as ever I wanted to dive from the top of the seats into the writhing, moshing throng lucky enough to have snagged standing tickets. Not to worry; the Foos have a set that’s suited to a place like this, and certainly their frontman has the personality and charm to fill it too. “We’re gonna rock!” he screams, “Til we can’t fuckin play no more!” (The exclamation marks are important; everything he says is punctuated with them.)
He loves it: the crowd roar their approval and Grohl charges round the stage and into the midst of the audience via a walkway that reaches roughly the centre circle. There are drum solos, acoustic interludes, breakdowns in songs for the kids to sing and clap along, even a triangle solo and an extended meet-the-band bit that in the hands of anyone else would border on excruciating, even embarrassing. That it is actually engaging and smile-inducing is testament to the spirit running through the band and by definition therefore their driving force.
“We’ve been going for twelve years (sic)!” Grohl informs the crowd. “We used to suck! But we’re fuckin good now!” He’s right on the latter part, at least.
The enormous venue is reflected in the enormous ticket price, but with support from Futureheads and Manic Street Preachers that financial hit is assuaged a tad, and certainly the Foos’ crowd-pummelling triple-dip double-length hit-smashin extravaganza of a set is designed to try and give value for money.
It also shows one thing very clearly: that, in a very real way, there’s really nothing inherently wrong with being A Big Rock Star. And that the dictum is true that you should take what you do seriously, but never yourself.Something perhaps lost on some of his contemporaries back when the world was different and you were allowed to take as much liquid on board a plane as you liked.
In the face of some of the current paranoia and disillusionment, suspicion and frenzied rush toward A New Bigotry, escapism and happiness are more important than ever they were and Grohl has always understood the power of a smile and One! More! Motherfuckin! Rockin! Song!
Hey! Ho! Let’s go!