Ottawa welcomed back rock giants the Foo Fighters to the City stage at Bluesfest Tuesday night, roughly a decade since their last visit. Their 2-½-hour set consisted of songs plucked from their huge discography, including tracks from their latest studio album, Concrete and Gold (2017), along with a few surprise covers.
From start to finish, the energy give-and-take between the massive crowd and the band was unrelenting, enormous, and unforgettable. Frontman, lead singer, and guitarist Dave Grohl had a hold on the audience the entire time as he led them in call/response banter, and left plenty of room for them to sing. They put together a show that highlighted the pure power of the Foo Fighters as a unit, as well as the talents of each individually.
“Are you motherf–rs ready to dance?!” Grohl shouted to the roar of the crowd, and the needle dropped on the driving intensity of Grammy-award winning song “All My Life” (2002). Followed up with hits “Learn To Fly”, the fiery “The Pretender”, and the infectious “The Sky Is a Neighborhood”, things were well on their way as the band kept delivering the goods to a hungry crowd.
The music’s blend of punk influence mixed with melodic rock, soft-heavy dynamics, and poignant lyrics, have been the winning formula which has earned this band multiple awards and legions of fans worldwide. “We’ve been in this band for 23 years,” yelled Grohl, “and we’re gonna try to play a song from every record we’ve made!” The ride continued with more favourites, “My Hero”, and “These Days”, by which time the sound of 30,000 voices singing in unison, carried into the night air.
The talents of lead guitarist Chris Shiflett were highlighted as he soloed into some classic 12-bar blues. Keyboardist Rami Jaffe headlined a mashup of “Imagine” with Van Halen’s “Jump”, heavy with plenty of Grohl growl. Guitarist Pat Smear, who also shares a love for punk rock, came out raging with “Blitzkrieg Bop”, and finally Taylor Hawkins came out center stage to sing Queen’s “Under Pressure”, with Grohl on drum duties. Even daughter Violet Grohl who was in attendance joined a team of backup singers in “Dirty Water”.
Attention turned back to the audience for the anthemic “Best Of You”, where they carried the song to its dramatic finish. Encore songs included early hits, “Times Like These” and “Everlong”, which sent us all into headbanging, fist-pumping oblivian once again. It was clear to me that the thrill of going to a Foo Fighters show went way beyond the music… it was liberating, interactive, entertaining, and always a celebration.
RBC Bluesfest runs from July 5–15, 2018 at LeBreton Flats. Visit ottawabluesfest.com for the lineup and schedule. Keep checking back for more of Apt613’s Bluesfest coverage and follow us on Instagram for the latest photos.