Live review

Foo Fighters
MEN Arena, Manchester : 16.11.2002

What better way to open a gig than with the contemporary Foo Fighters classic All My Life? A curtain masked the band throughout the opening chords, before dramatically dropping for the chorus. Timing, as they say, is an art. The Foo Fighters tend to shy away from this type of glamorisation and opt for the more raw aspects of performance; preferring to nestle in sweat and broken guitar strings than grand theatrical entrances.
    Growing concern that the Foo Fighters had turned soft soon subsided as what followed the unnecessary curtain drop was aimed more at the out-and-out Foo fans, with a valiant handful of songs from previous albums, including Stacked Actors, My Hero and the immortal Everlong.

However, despite the reassuring trip down Memory Lane, the Foos soon got down to the serious business of promoting their new album One By One with the brutal Have It All, the abrasive Low and the calm Tired Of You, which is the closest the band will come to a ballad. It is remarkable how they can suddenly turn down the heat with a song that borders on being a lullaby, yet still maintain the audience's interest in-between the likes of Monkey Wrench and Breakout. You could almost see the atmosphere rise to the surface as the whole venue came to a standstill during Tired Of You, then ignite again afterwards as they continued headlong into the night with the amps turned up beyond the 'max' setting.

The forthcoming single, Times Like These is a subdued song in comparison to most on the album, but when performed live it took a different route; with raised voices, a severe tone to the guitars and towards the end, the drums competed for attention on the colourful palette of sound.
    Even bassist Nate Mendel - who generally remains placid and motionless during the most intense songs - let his hair down and would have been more at home in the mosh-pit than on the stage.

Dave Grohl introduced the final song, This Is A Call, with the words, "We'll finish where it all started for us." The more cynical members of the audience would have expected to hear the opening of Smells Like Teen Spirit as opposed to the maiden Foo Fighters release. However, the most prominent feature of their performance was that Dave Grohl has stepped out of the shadows of previous lives; for too long now the Foo Fighters have been mentioned in the same breath as another band beginning with 'N'.
    Their vibrant live performances illustrate that the labels previously attached to them no longer stick. The Foo Fighters are a serious outfit that are not only setting the standards, but gracefully rising above them.

:: Paul Newbold

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