I know it's been more than a week since the show. I find that when I talk about what I saw there, it makes me tear up, so I've probably been using an excuse about being too busy to sit down and really write about what is going on. But I need to, before it all goes away.
I'm going to start with the most significant fact of them all, which is that my husband, Lee, is amazing. When I couldn't buy tickets...not for lack of trying...he stepped and and worked until he managed to secure me 2 tickets to this show. He told me while I was mid-isolation in covid, so part of me was not sure I had not imagined it in my congested delirium. I had not. It was true. He'd gotten 2 tickets to a show I thought (think??) will be the last Foo Fighters show. Once we determined that it was not going to be possible for both of us to go, it became very important to get the right person to come along. This is a transcript of the conversation:
Lee: You should take Shannon! (Shannon is my sister.)
Me: I feel like, in that couple, the person I should take is Todd (Todd is my brother in law, married - obviously - to Shannon).
Lee: Oh, you're right. It should be Todd.
Todd is a drummer. Todd and I performed together for years in Quarter Mexican. We covered Foo Fighters, among other bands. It was the only right decision to ask him first. We did, and he reorganized things to make the trip as well. It was arranged.
I made promises to people - I promised to use my phone to take photos and videos. I hate that at shows. I want to experience the show, not view it through a tiny screen that won't make a difference to me later in time. At the end is a link to a photo folder with my videos and pictures. They aren't the greatest videos, but they will give you a taste of what the night was like. It should be broadcast by Paramount+ sometime in the future.
So...the actual show. We had crazy good seats (again, husband is amazing). The doors opened at 5, show started at 7, and they meant it. It was on time. At 7, the lights dimmed and two figures walked out onto the stage. Violet Grohl and Alain Johannes performed the Jeff Buckley cover of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" - beautiful. I don't want to get off track by waxing rhapsodic about Jeff Buckley. I could. He is another singular talent gone far too soon. Violet's goodbye to her Uncle Taylor was hard to listen to. I teared up a lot during her song. They left the stage, and within 3 minutes the stage was taken over by Joan Jett, Travis Barker and Foo Fighters. Joan Jett spoke for a bit and she broke a little, saying "I don't think I can get through this." Let me tell you, seeing/hearing the toughest woman in rock and roll break down was hard. I started to cry again. I texted Lee and told him. He said, GET IT TOGETHER WOMAN! and I realized, he was right. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and it was a celebration of someone who loved music down the center of his center. I shouldn't be wasting my time crying. So I stopped and it didn't get bad again until the very end.
I want to take a paragraph to praise the work of the techs...the roadies. There were probably 8 different drum kits that night, two of which stayed on stage the whole time and the rest which were moved in and out. There were also, I think, 11 Marshall stacks across the stage, as well as bass cabinets. I think I heard maybe 4 places where there was feedback that wasn't planned. They ran the tightest shop I've ever seen. The longest break was near the beginning, between the Coattail Riders and the James Gang. It was less than 7 minutes. I timed it on my phone. They were fast and precise professionals and I am in awe of them.
It'll take too long to go setup by setup. Here are my top 5 moments only in order of occurrence in the evening:
*While the Coattail Riders were out, with Josh Freese on drums and Justin Hawkins singing, out strolled Mark King. Who is Mark King, you may be asking? I believe Justin introduced him as the man with Thumbs of Glory. Mark King is the bassist, singer and songwriter for Level 42, and wrote one of the most perfect songs of my life. I commence flipping out because they are playing "Something About You" which has been one of my most loved songs of all time.
* Wolfgang Van Halen came out to play, and they launched into "Panama" which made Todd and I laugh because we'd spent time at lunch speculating what would they play and that was the top of Todd's list. It's not my favorite. But then they followed it up with my favorite, "Hot For Teacher." I know the message of that song is insane. I don't care. I love it. I've always, always wanted to perform it.
* Dave brings out Nancy Wilson and talks about how awesome she has been for so long, wondering aloud "I wonder who could sing a Heart song?" and I am yelling at Todd and yanking on his arm like I'm a ten year old "P!NK CAN SING A HEART SONG!!!" And Dave says, "P!nk can sing a Heart song!" and then she came out and absolutely destroyed "Barracuda" and then...just vanished. WHAT??
*They followed her with Stewart Copeland of the Police, and he is without question the most acrobatic and interesting drummer to watch work. During his set was the only time I wanted to be in the seats behind the stage just to have a better view of him.
* Queen's whole set was amazing - Justin Hawkins came back out to sing, Roger Taylor left the kit to his son to come out and sing, P!nk came out and sang the song I think Taylor covered the most with Foo at shows ("Somebody to Love") and again, owned it. Brian May sang "Love of My Life" with just a 12-string guitar and Taylor's wife Allison and their children onstage with him, and we all put our phone flashlights on and it was so bright when we did that it literally made the whole arena visible. Stunning, really.
Special honorable mention to Justin Hawkins, who leapt onstage with three different and diverse line-ups and absolutely OWNED the stage. I love him. Also, special negative honorable mention to Sebastian Bach, who sounded exactly like he should, but was the only person out of the almost 60 participants who tried to get the crowd to cheer just for him. He was like, let's hear it for Lars Ulrich! (crowd roars)...let's hear it for Geezer Butler!! (crowd roars louder) ...and let's hear it for me! (Crowd suddenly receives text messages they have to check immediately, or...crickets.) Seriously, Sebastian. The show was not about you. Ew. You're gross. Go back to whatever hole you were in.
The last hour (all of which happened after midnight) was Foo, with revolving drummers. We got Travis and Chad and Matt and Josh and Rufus and more...Their second song was "The Pretender" and out pops P!nk again. I'm thinking, oh what a great song for her and then realize...they needed someone to sing Taylor's part in the choruses. It was the first time I got sad in a long time at the show. Later, they start to cover "Creep" from Radiohead and out strolls Dave Chappelle to sing it. Totally entertaining. Shane Hawkins comes out to destroy "My Hero" and "I'll Stick Around" (which I always think of being Dave's declaration of independence after the end of Nirvana). Chad Smith ends the night on the kit with them as they close with "Everlong". The Foos bow. They bring out as many people as are still in the green room out to bow. It's after 1 am, and we still have to find a car back to the hotel...which took over an hour. All told, we spent 7+ hours at the Forum, plus the 2 hours getting there and home. I wouldn't give back a moment of that time. This is the biggest cultural event I have ever attended, and likely ever will. I'm still so sad and so mad that he has died. Why a 50 year old? Why someone who seemed so positive and filled with radiating love? You don't get 60 massive musicians to prepare for and travel to a show for you if you have a bad reputation.
I'm afraid I won't ever see Foo Fighters play again, but I've seen them a lot, plus the internet exists now so you can see all kinds of other clips. It's not like when I was young and if you missed it, that was it. My deep and abiding sympathy goes out to his family and his band family. Their loss is so vast, it's hard to wrap your arms around it.
Additions: here is my note I kept in my phone with the setlist. I've corrected spelling as best I could after typing in the dark without my reading glasses as the show happened. Below that is the link to the photos and videos. Thanks for reading. Share some music with someone.