Foo Fighters live in Manchester: invincible and still untouchable

June 13, Emirates Old Trafford: Dave Grohl sticks to his old tricks as the Foos kick off their most ambitious UK stadium tour to date

“It’s gonna be a long night, motherfuckers!” – we’ve heard this tale before from Dave Grohl. Gargantuan, three-hour shows have been Foo Fighters’ bread and butter for a number of years, justifying what would normally be an obscenely early stage time of 7.30pm in Manchester tonight – there’s a lot to pack in.

Sixteen years after the UK granted them their first shot at a stadium, their return marks the country’s second biggest tour all summer, topped only by Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour. The common theme, it appears, is the marathon approach – packing ten albums’ worth of material into one giant spectacle.

‘Monkey Wrench’ unexpectedly opens the set, helping invigorate a modest crowd who, to be fair, have been drenched in the Manchester rain all afternoon. Windswept and scruffy, Grohl screams through his trademark long hair, joking how a haircut might be imminent: “I’m gonna look like fucking Gandalf in three years.”

New drummer Josh Freese appears comfortably settled, keeping a relatively low profile to let Grohl’s masterful showmanship take centre stage. Putting his own spin on things rather than trying to emulate the late, great Taylor Hawkins, the fast and furious bridge in ‘All My Life’ is wickedly fresh, considering the track is on its umpteenth time around the block. The set is refreshingly slick, with less story time from Grohl than usual – though the temptation to drag ‘The Pretender’ out is too hard to resist.


Front-loading the set with greatest hits, the deep cut selection is exquisite. ‘Generator’ and ‘Arlandria’ prove a raspier Grohl hasn’t lost a smidge of his emotional edge, while ‘Under You’ receives an acoustic rendition on the runway. We’re treated to an unreleased number titled ‘Unconditional’, an old demo dragged out from the vaults which slots courteously into the show, albeit difficult to unpick amidst the majestic wall of sound.

Quite possibly their defining stadium-rock number, ‘Best Of You’ continues to be world-class, lifting Old Trafford into another stratosphere. Its chant outlasts the encore and continues into the tram station and beyond – its power to unite thousands more prevalent than ever. During closer ‘Everlong’, Grohl’s broken guitar gives him a chance to momentarily morph into Bono and frolic around the stage – mic in hand – just another charming trait to add to the CV of the nicest man in rock.

Approaching thirty years as a band, Foo Fighters have adapted in the face of any adversity, ensuring their stadium show remains cohesive, exemplary and simply untouchable. While others from their time might begin to creep towards legacy act territory, Foo Fighters remain as relevant and imperious as ever – they’re only going to need even more stadiums to fill.


Foo Fighters played:

‘Monkey Wrench’
‘Learn To Fly’
‘No Son Of Mine’
‘The Pretender’
‘Times Like These’
‘Stacked Actors’
‘Medicine At Midnight’
‘Under You’
‘My Hero’
‘This Is A Call’
‘The Sky Is A Neighbourhood’
‘These Days’
‘All My Life’
‘Best Of You’
‘The Teacher’

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