“It felt weird for the first 15 minutes. But it feels good right now.”Dave Grohl said to approximately 50,000 of his close Toronto friends at the Rogers Centre last Thursday night. July the 12th started off with news reports of a mysterious threat that prompted Toronto police to increase their presence in the city’s downtown core. By mid-afternoon news broke that the risk was actually a potential “vehicle ramming attack” in the vicinity of the CN Tower. While there was some obvious concern amongst concert attendees, this threat seemed to stop nobody from seeing the Foo Fighters perform their largest Toronto concert ever in front of a sold-out crowd of fanatics (Foonatics).
The Foo Fighters pop-up store across the street at Steam Whistle Brewery had a line-up stretching 200 meters back from the brewery entrance for most of the afternoon - fans eager to get their hands some exclusive pop-up tee shirts and merchandise that wasn’t available within the concert venue. Foo Fighters customized Blue Jays Bobble-heads, Beer funnels, and sexy bar mirrors were on display amongst limited edition screen printed posters and event shirts with iconic Toronto colours and landmarks. Somebody in the Foo Fighters marketing camp had their A-Game on!! The band’s merchandise for this show was truly excellent, and many fans were buying more than one item once they finally made their way to the front of the line-up.
The Beaches want more “Money” and so do we!
Toronto darlings The Beaches opened the show. Jordan Miller, Kylie Miller, Leandra Earl and Eliza Enman-McDaniel took the stage at 6:00pm - and delivered a tight 30-minute set of their catchy up-tempo rock and roll to a (mostly) appreciative crowd. I say mostly because some wiener in the audience managed to lob a beer-soaked baseball hat overtop of the crowd, over the security pit, and over the front of the stage to magically have it land directly against Eliza’s left drum hand - knocking the stick right out of her hand as she sat down behind her drum kit.
Not even one minute into the first song of the night and somebody got their drunk ass tossed out of the venue for being an idiot - nice job!! Eliza blew it off and started playing with a new drumstick as soon as she could. The band sounded tight!! I wound up in a suite after I photographed The Beaches, and was quite astounded at how great their music came off in a venue the size of the Rogers Centre.
It was The Struts that did it, but it “Could Have Been Me”.
Next up came The Struts - an incredible four-piece band hailing from Derby, Derbyshire, England with most (if not all) band members currently now residing in L.A. Luke Spiller, Adam Slack, Jed Elliott and Gethin Davies had no problem whatsoever warming up the Toronto crowd with their dynamic body of original material. With only one album under their belt and a second album now recorded but not released, The Struts are a band you can expect big things from.
They somehow boast the bravado of groups like the Rolling Stones and Queen with a modern sense of musicality that is appealing to young fans of contemporary and indie rock. Dave Grohl, one of the Strut’s biggest fans, has gone out of his way to sing the band’s praises in the press. The Foo Fighter’s brought vocalist Luke Spiller out on stage with them midway through their headlining set to perform “Under Pressure” together, one of the finest moments of the entire evening. The Struts performed their newest single “Body Talks” this evening, along with a brand new track entitled “Primadonna Like Me”, before knocking it out of the park with four of their finest sings in a row: “Kiss This,” “Put Your Money on Me,” “Could Have Been Me,” and “Where Did She Go.”
At 8:30pm Dave Grohl, Nate Mendel, Pat Smear, Taylor Hawkins, Chris Shiflett and Rami Jaffee took the “big-ass Toronto stage,” turned the volume up to eleven and blasted Toronto with a close-to-three-hour set of live music that touched on their entire repertoire of material. In addition to the aforementioned Queen cover of “Under Pressure,” the band performed a stunning rendition of Alice Cooper’s “Under My Wheels” that featured Chris Shiflett on vocals and two guitar solos. Grohl called Shiflett out on the first guitar solo as being too wimpy and told him to step it up with a second STADIUM guitar solo. Immediately after the Alice Cooper cover, the band did a medley of “Another One Bites the Dust,” “Imagine,” “Jump,” and then “Blitzkrieg Bop,” before doing the full rendition of “Under Pressure” with Luke Spiller.
“My Hero” was performed in two styles: the first half was done by Dave acoustically in the middle of the crowd at the very end of the long runway that jutted out from the stage to the center of the stadium. Halfway through the song, the lights went up on the stage behind Grohl, and the band kicked it up with the full-on rock version of the track, boosted even louder with some maximum Toronto audience participation. “The Pretender” easily pushed past the ten-minute mark with extended guitar solos from Grohl, Smear, and Shiflett - boasting Grohl running up and down the runway into the crowd as the song doubled in length from it’s original running time.
According to the Foos, “The Sky Is A Neighborhood”.
Toss in nuggets like “All My Life,” “Monkey Wrench,” “This Is a Call,” “Best of You,” “Times Like These,” and “Everlong” and you’ve got the makings of a fine evening indeed. I’m not a particularly big fan of the acoustics at the Rogers Centre. I find them to be very hit and miss. Thankfully, tonight sounded really good. The energy in the room was electric, and the show was undoubtedly one for the books. Bonus points again for the original merchandise options at reasonable prices. There were $25, $30 and $35 shirts at this show - where bands of less longevity would have asked $50-$60, the Foos kept it civil - a fact I’m sure went over well with a majority of their fans.
Foo Fighters’ Toronto Setlist:
All My Life
Learn to Fly
The Sky Is a Neighborhood
Under My Wheels (Alice Cooper cover)
Another One Bites the Dust (Queen cover)
Imagine (Beatles cover)
Jump (Van Halen cover)
Blitzkrieg Bop (Ramones cover)
Under Pressure (Queen cover) (Dave/Taylor on drums, Luke Spiller vocals)
This Is a Call
Best of You Encore:
Times Like These