Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Foo Fighters, Western Springs, 13/12/11

There's no beating about the bush here, so I'm gonna come right out and say that I've seen better shows from this band, in this city.

And yes, that includes the legendary, one of a kind Town Hall show this year - but it also includes the 2008 shows at Vector, and the 2005 show at the Supertop (and, if I'm being nostalgic, the 1998 gig at the Town Hall).

I'm a big Foo Fighters fan - have been since the start - but there was just something a bit off about last night's show at Western Springs.  Don't get me wrong - it had its moments, but past Foos gigs have set a high bar that this one failed to hit.  Maybe that's why I'm a little negative about it.  Anyway, here goes.

Firstly, stadium shows suck.  I am not a fan.  When there is that much distance between you and the band, it's not quite the same.    It's always better to be close to the action, and the setting just didn't lend itself to that.  Perhaps a circular stage a la Metallica or Muse might have been a winner.  And yes they had big screens, but so does Lady fucking Gaga.  If I want to watch shit on a big screen, I've got Foo's DVDs that I can stick on the TV at home.

The other big stadium problem is sound.  The bass was muddy and way too strong in the mix.  Maybe that is a necessity of playing such a large venue - but at other points in the stadium it sounded really treble-heavy.  Or maybe they could just learn a trick or two from Roger Waters - the Dark Side of the Moon gig at North Harbour Stadium a few years ago had a very good sound set-up.

Anyway, grumble number 2 was the setlist.  This is more a criticism of the band than the gig itself, but it bothers me when bands play the same setlist every night across a tour.  The only real change the Foos made across this tour was to replace Bridge Burning with All My Life as the opening song - and I reckon the former was actually the better choice (although the latter is a brilliant track).  But if other big name acts like Pearl Jam and Metallica can play setlists that vary quite heavily from night to night - why can't the Foos?  To be blunt, I'd like to see the Foos playing less of the singles (some of which, like Learn to Fly and Wheels are just weak and MOR and not good), and more album cuts like Low, Hey Johnny Park!, and Exhausted.  The covers are a good touch - but they've got such an enormous repertoire that it would be good to see them vary that up too - throw in Darling Nikki, or Band on the Run.

Grumble number three was the jamming.  Don't get me wrong - I love it when bands fool around with songs and in most cases I will be disappointed when bands don't jam, at least for a little bit.  But I thought the Foos were a bit off target with their extended sections for two reasons.  Firstly, they overdid it - at one point it seemed like they were rumbling into extended instrumental sections on almost every song.  Definitely a case for 'less is more'.  Secondly, they were jamming the same songs in the same ways that I've heard before - like the outro to My Hero or the bridge in Stacked Actors.  It would be more of a novelty for them to play Stacked Actors straight - it is, after all, possibly the best song they've written. 

But equally, the Foos deserve credit for being one of the few bands that can play a whole lot of new stuff, without fans getting restless.  Rope and Arlandria both got a great reception (and deservedly so).  And I really enjoyed White Limo.  Although I do wish they'd played more songs off their first (and best) album - and not Big Me either, what about I'll Stick Around or Wattershed or Good Grief.

I'm sure many people enjoyed the gig immensely, but for me it was in the category of 'could do better'.  What did you think?


Dave said...

It was my first Foos gig, and as such I did enjoy it immensely. Like you though, I'm not a fan of stadium rock. What should've been the most memorable concert ever for me (Iron Maiden in 2009) was largely ruined due to unrealistic expectations which were unfulfilled due to the sound at the venue. You don't expect to go to see the masters of Metal and be wishing they'd crank up the sound a lot more.

I really wish I'd have gone to see the Foos at Town Hall though, and if Dave does make good on his promise, I'll do my best to get there. Think I've even convinced the wife that she's not too old to tag along. :-)

Mr GS said...

It's possible the Foos are also suffering from being too good to NZ and coming here all the time. Fortunately you have the luxury of being able to compare last night's gig to many others they have done in recent times, as opposed to the bands who have only started coming here for one show only when Vector opened up.

m0rph3us said...

I think first-time Foos concert-goers and casual fans would have enjoyed the show a great deal - and fair enough too.

But yeah, we have a great deal to thank Vector for. It is actually the second most successful venue in the world in its size bracket (10,000 to 15,000).