REVIEW AND PICTURES: Foo Fighters ‘live out their rock n roll fantasy’ at MK Bowl

  • Foo Fighters, Iggy Pop and Royal Blood
  • The National Bowl, Milton Keynes
  • Saturday, September 5

It’s a big stage, and the two guys on it should be swamped by its vastness.

Except that Royal Blood have some decidedly big sounds at play here, and the Brighton duo (who only really came to the fore in 2014) are pretty used to big stages – the guys are fresh back from a North American tour with Foo Fighters.

Traditionally, the first act up on a big billing at best causes a little ripple, at worst, fails to ignite at all. But Ben and Mike are having fun up there, and it shows.

Royal Blood are a show opening exception and plenty more than an acceptable amount of fans are stage front and lapping up their deliveries - Come On Over and Little Monster are perfect pleasers, and they give us a smattering of the Black Sabbath classic Iron Man. Teasers.

The Godfather of Punk follows, and Iggy Pop cuts loose with Stooges numbers No Fun and I Wanna Be Your Dog by way of warm introduction.

He waves at the folks lining the banks of the Bowl, “...the cheapo people,” he says, “I love you...I’m a cheapo too, look how old my jeans are!

“I’m Iggy...it means everything for me to be here,” he says before the familiar strains of Passenger cut in.

It’s another crowd pleaser in a show brimming with fine cuts – Lust for Life, Skull Ring, Five Foot One and the Real Wild Child cover all jostle for position, with Iggy making fine use of the runway before him. He skips and kicks, twists and turns as only Iggy can.

Every now and then he makes use of a chair, taking a pew during Nightclubbing, but Iggy still has more energy than any new breed act you care to mention. Heck, that’s down to that Lust for Life, right?

He signs off with Mass Production, another day at the office done. There’s no doubt about it, the National Bowl has been well and truly Pop-ped.

The curtain falls after his performance, and when it lifts again, the place goes wild as sixty-something thousand rabid Foo Fighters fans greets the return of one of rock’s biggest beasts.

This gig never should have been, and if frontman Dave Grohl hadn’t taken an unfortunate tumble from a stage earlier in the summer, never would have come to be.

That fall resulted in the nasty leg fracture that scuppered their Wembley Stadium dates and saw them cancel their Glastonbury headliner.

“It’s been 11 weeks since the incident and the last thing I wanted to do was cancel those shows...I said ‘We gotta get back here as soon as we can,’” Dave tells us, “...so tonight we’re gonna play some extra long sh** for you...and we’re just getting warmed up.”

Everlong opens the two and a half set, with Grohl spending it seated on a most gloriously over-the-top throne. This thing has been well documented in the past few weeks, but it is a masterpiece, designed by Grohl himself and adorned by guitar necks.

It’s magnificent by any stretch, and when it transports him down the runway?

It’s a spectacle and a crowd pleaser, and as it stops before the end of the runway, we are spared any further incidents and breakages.

Foo’s have a rare ability to turn a stadium filling show into a party for 65,000 of their closest friends.

We bring the drink, they take care of the music – and tonight that soundtrack includes Monkey Wrench, Learn to Fly and the glorious sounding Something From Nothing, from the current album Sonic Highways.

Band introductions are part of the show package, but really we all know guitarist Pat Smear (the cigarette smoking, dancing one), Chris Shiflett (the quietly locked in one with the searing solos) and bassist Nate Mendel, who tonight looks decidedly un-rock n roll in a shirt and jumper combo (“It looks like you could be in Yes,” Grohl teases his comrade).

The guy at the back on the keys next to drummer Taylor Hawkins? That’s long time honorary Foo, Rami Jaffri and together the six man, eleven-legged (think about it) machine is firing on all cylinders this evening.

Grohl asks the assembled to give thanks to their lighting crew for their efforts by illuminating the Bowl, and instantly thousands of lighters and mobile phones illuminate the area.

It’s a spectacle and a half and shines throughout Big Me.

Drummer Taylor – the second loudest of the Foos – takes the mic for Cold Day in the Sun.

“Who is Milton by the way?” he asks.

Not that they want to investigate the history of Milton Keynes in the here and now. They want to make a little history of their own.

“Would you please welcome our two sweet friends, Mr Roger Taylor from Queen and John Paul Jones from Led Zeppelin,” a clearly excited Grohl says.

“I don’t know if y’all have seen a super group...this is a super-duper group! Let me tell you the Foo Fighters are living out our rock n roll fantasy with you tonight!”

And the Queen classic Under Pressure follows, with Hawkins leading the vocal range splendidly.

To be fair, both Jones and Taylor joined the Foos on stage in MK back in 2011, but you’ll not hear a solitary complaint about this repeat.

A shredding version of White Limo speeds by, then Arlandria and the call to arms cry of Breakout before they bring it into the here and now with the Sonic Highways cut Outside.

Refusing to waste time with indulgent encores, they play right the way through, eventually calling time with Best of You.

As it turns out, we’ve just had the best of them.

We salute Foo!