Concert Review: Foo Fighters @ Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Ontario

It has been a busy year in the worlds of media and social media for the Foo Fighters. The band released their seventh studio album, Wasting Light, at the beginning of the year. They then treated fans to a Record Store Day limited edition vinyl cover album called Medium Rare. The Foo Fighters then embarked on a contest tour in which they played in people’s garages. They even made a documentary out of it. They also released a ‘proper’ documentary, entitled Back and Forth, which has been praised for its brutal honesty and its in-depth look at the personnel changes behind the band. Not done yet – Dave Grohl made YouTube headlines (do they have those??) by kicking a fan out of a UK gig for fighting. Dave Grohl followed this up by appearing on YouTube again, this time rocking out in the pit at a Soundgarden show. It has been a busy year indeed – PHM doesn’t lie.

With all this in mind, the Foos kicked off their North American tour in Toronto last night, although technically they played a club gig and then headlined Lollapalooza, both in Chicago. Openers the Dough Boys and Fucked Up set the stage for a rockin’, 24-song, 2+ hour night of rock n roll by the fighters of foo.

The band kicked it off with Wasting Light’s opener, Bridge Burning. The stage featured a portrait video screen on either side, a long cat walk to the back of the arena, and several moving screens, which were often used to flash lights and some images. The band went straight into the next song on the album, Rope, before starting a crowd sing along on The Pretender. Dave Grohl then asked if the crowd wanted to sing a Foo Fighters song with him, and launched into early career hit, My Hero. There was a massive applause that stopped the band dead in their tracks, prompting Grohl to say “Thank you, good night”.

After this, Grohl, dressed all in black, finally chatted with the large, sell-out crowd at the ACC. “How the fuck are ya?! This is the biggest show of the tour, just so you know. You’d better get comfortable because this is going to be a long, long show.” The Foos lived up to their word. Dave also mentioned that he had no voice in the morning, and a couple of shots of whiskey solved that. Grohl was drinking beer and presumably whiskey, like the true rock n roller he is.

3rd album single Learn to Fly was played after the banter, followed by the screeching song, White Limo off the latest disc, which broke out the crowd surfers for the first time. After Arlandria and Breakout, Grohl asked the crowd “What is the last thing a drummer says before he leaves a band? ‘Hey guys, I have a song that I wrote for us.'” This was drummer Taylor Hawkins cue to ask to play a song, and after some friendly banter, they played the Taylor-sung Cold Day in the Sun.

This was followed by Long Road to Ruin, and then a long intro that led to Stacked Actors. The video screens started layering faux fireworks on top of the band, which was incredibly cheesy and hopefully ironic. Grohl walked down the catwalk to the far end of the arena, and a small stage elevated Dave high above the crowd at the far end. Dave and lead guitarist Chris Shiflett had a bit of a guitar showdown, riffing back and forth (like the documentary name!) from opposite ends of the arena.

Another single from the new disc, Walk, was played, followed by Generator. Before the song, Grohl mimicked his speech from Lollapalooza, mentioning how the Foo Fighters don’t use computers. “Those are for tetris and porn.” He proclaimed his love for rock n roll. Rock can involve computers, too, Dave!

The crowd got excited when the intro to Monkey Wrench was played. Dave noted that it is hard to play guitar hero when you have Alex Lifeson from Rush on the side of the stage. Dave dropped to his knees in a quick prayer to the Rush guitarist.

Let It Die was next, followed by what Grohl proclaimed was his favourite song he has ever written, These Days. The band was relentless, playing hit after hit. Besides the aforementioned three band members, bassist Nate Mendel and returning guitarist Pat Smear made up the rest of the rock outfit.

B-Side Skin and Bones followed, and then the lone song from their first album made an appearance in the form of This is a Call. Dave noted that this was the first song they ever played, and then did a mock throwback to 1995 and introduced the song.

The Foos entered their 19-song main set with balls to the wall rocker, All My Life, which was a definite crowd favourite.

During the time before the encore, the video screen showed the band backstage, via infrared vision. It showed Dave asking how many more songs they should do. He held up one finger, to which Taylor jumped in and held up 3, much to the crowd’s delight. Dave then seemed shocked, and held up 2, trying to meet Taylor in the middle. The camera panned back to a smiling Taylor, who held up a whopping 5 fingers. Dave shook his head immediately, setting on 3, which drew boos from the crowd. After more hilarious banter, Dave seemed to agree on 4 songs.

When the dim lights came back on, Dave Grohl was at the tiny, elevated stage at the far end of the arena. “You guys thought you had the shitty seats!”

Dave then played Wheels, off of their Greatest Hits album, on acoustic guitar by himself. The crowd loudly backed him in the choruses. Dave continued to play solo, launching into Best of You. Next was Times Like These, with the band finally joining Dave about halfway through.

Mose Allison cover song Young Man Blues was next, and then the fifth encore song (good for you, Taylor!) was crowd favourite, Everlong.

After 16 long years, the Foos are still at the top of their game. They (finally) have their first number one album in America, they are continuing to sell out arenas, and most of all, are having fun. Okay, that’s too corny, but they still rock in a live setting and still have the humour of a college band. If you’re a millionaire and can rock like you mean it, you deserve the praise you’re getting. If there’s ever a How to Act Like a Rock n Roll Star, Dave Grohl should be used as an example. He has the perfect poses when playing guitar, whether leaning into his notes, or stepping on an amp – he looks cool. It comes naturally and takes most rockers tours to perfect. Some people just have it.

PHM Rating: 8.5 out of 10
Setlist for Foo Fighters @ Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Canada – August 9, 2011

Bridge Burning
The Pretender
My Hero
Learn to Fly
White Limo
Cold Day in the Sun
Long Road to Ruin
Stacked Actors
Monkey Wrench
Let It Die
These Days
Skin and Bones
This is a Call
All My Life

Best of You
Times Like These
Young Man Blues (Mose Allison Cover)

Foo Fighters – Everlong
[youtube eBG7P-K-r1Y]

You may also like...