Madrid. 12 hours before Foo’s. The rain starts.
8 hours before. Thunder and lightning. Flights are delayed due to safety concerns.
4 hours before. Madrid is drenched by some end-of-days Jurassic Park style rain.
It wasn’t looking good for the tens of thousands of fans who’d shown up to see Foo Fighters play the opening headliner slot at Mad Cool Festival in Madrid. With biblical rain downpour and a fully open air main stage, even the festival production team ruefully noted they might have to cancel the gig. Dave later admitted to the crowd, “Man, we were looking at the sky like, no way- this isn’t happening”. Lucky for us, it did. Just before the set the storm let up, making way for the shower of sound that was to take its place.
As the band took to the stage, from nowhere the number of festival-goers swelled from a few thousand to tens of thousands. The crowd were pumped and more than happy to answer frontman Grohl’s opening greeting of three screaming roars, with their own screams right back. The fans’ wicked sense of humour was on display as quite a few wore“Break a Leg” t.shirts.
Camp Foo started with a nod to the epic Glastonbury gig they’d headlined earlier this year by kicking off Mad Cool with the same song they closed Glasto with, ‘Everlong’. They kept it nineties with ‘Monkey Wrench’ and ‘Learn to Fly’. Dave was joyous. “Look at the moon! Look at this f**king beautiful night, can you believe it?” Madrid, still wet and soggy looked up at the moon whilst belting out “Looking to the sky to save me”. Following the redemption from the rain - it couldn’t have been planned better if you tried.
By their fourth track ‘Something from Nothing’, crowds were barefoot dancing on top of bins and screaming “WHO, are YOU” at the stage during ‘The Pretenders’ like they wanted to hurt someone. This was a die-hard fan crowd. When Grohl asked who’d had been to a Foo gig before, most arms were up. Frontman Grohl worked them like old friends. “Hey hey Ladies and Gents...Shut the f*** up. No wait. We’re gonna have a competition tonight to see who’s gonna lose their voice first. And it ain’t gonna be me motherf**kers.” He was right. Hurtling through a twenty-one track set list in just over two hours, the crowd were hoarse and his Goliath vocal chords barely seemed to notice the strain. Towards the end of the set, new song ‘Run’ from yet to be released ‘Concrete and Gold’ album was well received. Melodic and LOUD.
Foo Fighters have had their longevity attributed to some ‘timeless’ quality. This gig showed the opposite. As the set moved through the last 22 years, different generations sang along to their own coming of-age mantras. A guy next to me bouncing around in the crowd, “I’m 44 now. Fuck I remember this like it was yesterday.” Grohl’s comments are similar and he often references just how many years they’ve been around. When sunshine Taylor Hawkins (introduced as the blonde Freddy Mercury) kicked off his energy packed solo, he earnestly said into the mic “Dave, you don’t know what it’s like, being in a band with the greatest musician in the world.”The sense is strong that when you watch and sing along at a Foo gig, you are participating in a musical legacy. But also a personal one. These dudes have spent their lives being in this band. Every track is a time stamp from the last 22 years, musically and personally. As the crowd yelled along to final song, “Best of you” the feeling in the air was triumphant. Definitely ‘time-full’ over ‘timeless’.
Learn to Fly
Something From Nothing
Cold Day in the Sun
All My Life
Times Like These
Skin and Bones
This Is a Call
Best of You