Live Reviews : Foo Fighters, Weezer & Clowns @ Etihad Stadium, Melbourne 30/01/2018
Words: Jonathon Besanko
Photos: John Raptis
Tonight was a night that brought with it a lot of anticipation. I’ve been waiting to see the Foo Fighters for years! As crowds flooded in at quarter past 5, a Tuesday night in Melbourne didn’t deter many at all.
First up was Melbourne’s Clowns, a punk band that’s already been making waves in the States. Being quite new to their music, I was curious to see how they’d fare but excited also, going off the songs I’d heard online. As an old Victoria Bitter ad came over the audience, Clowns acknowledged the traditional owners of the land and commented how it’s “kinda fucked up” that a stadium is on sacred ground. Filled with strong, youthful energy and powerful, ringing hooks, Clowns came out with a bang and delivered. I liked how the band felt so comfortable on stage with each other, performing side by side and bouncing off one another. These guys felt right at home up on a stadium stage and had the sound to accompany it. Not every band can fill a stadium satisfactorily but that certainly is not the case with Clowns – these guys gave 110% to their whole performance, earning respectful cheer and some crowd jumping; thanks, also, in part to their charismatic and none-too-serious frontman, Stevie Williams.
Clowns extended thanks to the Foo Fighters, Weezer, Frontier Touring, and Etihad Stadium (the latter ironically) before blasting into another heavy hitter of old school punk and pop punk goodness. “Did you come down early to stand still? I want you and you,” – points to both sides of the stage, with the already packed out pit area – “to actively lose your shit! This is ‘Never Enough’!” Clowns just took the whole experience in their stride, and kicked serious ass from start to finish!
Opening to a luminescent “W”, Weezer came out with a bang, immediately recalling that warm feeling of the mid-to late ‘90s. The band had a really great and immense sound that enveloped the room, earning good cheer from the audience. Their song “El Scorcho” evoked the feeling of being out on the patio on a nice Sunday morning, adding fun, small lyrical changes like “…at the Foo Fighters concert!” It gave a nice extra touch to the atmosphere of the evening. The lighting work hit in full force for Weezer’s set, with indigo strobes bleeding out over a field of people now filling out the floor area.
Weezer was musically tight for their whole set, and between frontman Rivers Cuomo commanding the stage as he did, and switching it up with a keyboard for new tracks like “Happy Hour”, it added a relaxed atmosphere of fun to the show. Noting how they were going to be performing with Pixies later in the year, they performed a cover of the band’s song, “Where Is My Mind”. Where with songs like “Beverly Hills”, it saw Cuomo don a sombrero, and it became evident between that and “Buddy Holly”, and by extension of bassist Scott Shriner and drummer Patrick Wilson, that Weezer has some of the boppiest, catchiest hooks I’ve heard.
“Goodbye, Australia! Weezer loves you!” Cuomo cried out, before he and guitarist Brian Bell ran up and pretended to go for a stage dive, as Wilson busted out the guitar for a surprising cover of Van Halen’s “Eruption”!
Naturally, Foo Fighters kicked off with a bang. As the curtain fell (adorned with the logo from their latest album, Concrete and Gold), Dave Grohl’s raspy scream filled the floor. By the second song alone, the energy in the room was already alive – thanks to the power and charisma of Grohl, and the expertise and magnificence of drummer Taylor Hawkins – wow, this man can drum!
Their chosen set was excellent, and by the fourth song alone, “The Pretender”, things were already kicked into high gear. From the moment go, the Foo Fighters had the crowd and their full attention. Grohl got the stadium to put up the lights: “I want see them!” he shouted. “Did you guys come here for rock ‘n’ roll? Foo Fighters play rock ‘n’ roll!” Guitarist Christian Shiflett then soloed in, donning a red bandana and a denim shirt, looking like a 1970’s throwback.
Current single, “Sky Is A Neighbourhood” rolled in, coupled with the ethereal voices of three female backup singers. However, what followed was one of the best parts of the whole night: an extended drum solo sequence from Hawkins that saw he and Grohl playfully bounce off one another’s playing, rise up the crowd at parts, and have the drum platform rise on hydraulics to what has to be one of the strongest displays of sheer drumming talent I’ve seen in my 25 years. And that’s not even to mention his awesome Japanese-styled kit and his impressive singing voice.
Hearing a whole stadium of people sing along with Grohl to “My Hero” was a fantastic thing to be a part of, and between the excellent stage and lighting work, songs like “These Days” that had Grohl dedicate it to Australia felt that much more special.
Busting out tracks for the old school fans like “Let It Die” and “Breakout” saw the audience go wild in the seats and on the floor. However, as it got the introductions segment of the night, the real fun and craziness began! Introducing Christian Shiflett, grand applause followed as his excellent lead solo work led into a cover of Alice Cooper’s song, “Under My Wheels”. Grohl then had the crowd in fits of laughter as he proclaimed how crazy the pit on the right side of the stage was and that they’d mosh to anything! Introductions for Nate Mendel (bass), Rami Jaffee (keys), and Pat Smear (guitar) were given next as the Foo Fighters dove into the main line of “Blitzkrieg Bop” by the Ramones. Hawkins had his moment to shine as he took over the mic and began with the famous crowd chant of Freddie Mercury from Live Aid in ’85. This led into an excellent cover of Queen’s (ft. David Bowie) “Under Pressure”, where Grohl took over on drum duties.
It was a night of great fun, laughter, and pure rock ‘n’ roll! It convinced this reviewer of everything he’d heard about the Foo Fighters, that they give one of the best live performances out there, and having seen them now, I can most certainly confirm that.
Bouncing between special non-set list tracks like “Big Me” and an anecdote on the Mentos inspiration behind the song, Grohl’s many anecdotes added a nice flavour and switch of pace between the frenetic energy of their performance. This was true when Grohl spoke of Weezer’s frontman Rivers Cuomo and how they’d last performed together back in 2005. Cuomo then joined the Fooies on stage for a great cover of the KISS classic, “Detroit Rock City”.
As the night came to its end, the encore was brought in with an amusing behind-the-stage antic from Dave Grohl that had him appear on the screens either side of the stage and egg on the crowd for more songs – all the while pulling hilarious expressions. Unsurprisingly, it worked and we were awared a whole six more songs! Which included the likes of instrumental “Ballad of the Beaconsfield Miners”, “Times Like These”, “For All Cows”, “This Is A Call”, a cover of the AC/DC classic “Let There Be Rock” (with the late, great Malcolm Young appearing on the back screen), and the brilliant “Everlong”.
To a largely filled out stadium, Foo Fighters put on one of the greatest shows I’ve seen and it’s a night I won’t soon forget.