(5 / 5)
It must be quite a memory, witnessing Dave Grohl ask the crowd to give his new band their time of day. “I know you guys are waiting for the Beastie Boys,” the frontman is quoted saying, “but let us play a few songs for you.”
That was January 1996 and the Foo Fighters were performing in Bangkok for the first time on the MTV Alternative Nation tour alongside Sonic Youth and the Beastie Boys.
Two decades rolled by, the band went from having a handful of tunes to strum to carrying a rock god mantle with over 150 songs to curate their setlist. While their grand return Thursday night (Aug 24) couldn’t run on that entire catalogue until 7 o’clock in the morning as Grohl playfully teased, it was more than enough to make up for lost time. “We’ll play as many songs as we can,” he said. “And we’ll try to play songs from every record that we’ve made, ‘cos we’ve made a lot of fucking records.”
The result was two and a half hours jam-packed with number ones and fan favourites throughout their long and strong career, served up with kick-ass stage command and even more kick-ass headbangs and extended guitar solos.
A thunderous roar shook the Impact Challenger as the Foo Fighters took the stage and opened with “Everlong”, usually a designated show-closing anthem. Grohl fought hard not to drown in the music but it took the entire song before the sound quality recovered. A string of hits then followed, to wit “Monkey Wrench”, “Learn To Fly”, “Something From Nothing” and “The Pretender”.
Reminiscence was a recurring theme, and rightly so. During the band introduction Grohl asked bassist Nate Mendel and guitarist Pat Smear what they remembered about Bangkok. Apparently not much else beside “boats” and “mosquitos”, but no one minded. Those who caught the band last time – or the “old motherfuckers” in Grohl’s words – were on a high as the foreman dedicated 1995’s “Big Me” and “I’ll Stick Around” to them.
On most nights the Foos would pay tribute to their rock heroes in song. This wasn’t the case. Drummer Taylor Hawkins showed off his singing chops in “Cold Day In The Sun” and “Sunday Rain”, a new song off upcoming LP Concrete and Gold (Sep 15), instead of Queen and Bowie’s “Under Pressure” he did a few days prior at Summer Sonic. Other tracks from the album, “Run” and “The Sky Is A Neighborhood”, were also present for the fiercer parts of the show.
Other highlights include “Skin and Bones”, offered with a jazzy oomph and a final gothic twist as keyboardist Rami Jaffee brought out his accordion; “Wheels”, a controversial country-rock singalong that proved to be the Bangkok crowd’s favourite; and “Generator”, a surprise treat they hadn’t performed on tour since 2015.
At one point Dace Grohl said as a segue, “We played this song in 1996, but it sounds so much better now.” Hopefully they won’t need another two decades to “fine-tune” their craft (is there such a thing as double scare quotes?). The show was the best version it could possibly be from this band of big players known for not sticking to a setlist. And the crowd, who kept on chanting during “Best Of
Foos You” in hope to prolong the finale, would agree when I say we want shows like this time and time again.