By Florianne Humphrey
It’s hard to believe in a god sometimes when, just a week before I was meant to see one of my favourite bands live for the first time, the lead singer breaks his leg and cancels the gig. If you’ve read any music news recently, you will have correctly guessed that this band is the Foo Fighters, and the lead singer in question is Dave Grohl.
I really hoped he’d continue the UK tour – Grohl had still finished the Gothenburg concert with his newly-broken leg in a cast, ironically singing his way through ‘Walk’ – but Wembley was not to be. Bitterly disappointed, I was imagining my now Foo-less evening would consist of watching YouTube videos of their past concerts whilst wiping tears off the keyboard. That was, however, until I found a Foo Fighter’s tribute band playing in the shadow of Wembley Stadium itself, with profits going to a music-based charity, Given to Live. Although this may sound like a poor-man’s version of the real thing, they are the true inspiration for this article.
My perception of tribute bands used to be that they’re the musical version of an elderly, low-budget, amateur dramatics group who forget their lines to a Shakespeare play. The UK Foo Fighters, however, have credentials, with frontman Jay having been invited onstage to play with Grohl at the band’s Brighton gig for a rendition of ‘White Limo’. It seemed like fate to me, seeing as last year, whilst scrolling through Ticketmaster, I mistook the tribute band for the Foo Fighters, screaming with excitement when I saw tickets available for only a tenner. So for a fraction of the price of the ‘real deal’, I found a good way to banish my post-cancellation blues, and a viable way to spend my Friday night.
The venue, Crystal Clubs, although geographically close, was aesthetically very far from the architectural grandeur of Wembley Stadium, and there was nothing very impressive about the low-ceilinged function room that smelt of stale beer and sweat, and whose only nod to décor were the gaudy pink and purple flashing lights. Where Wembley couldn’t compete, however, was with the intimacy. When the UK Foo Fighters launched into their first song the sound bounced around the room from speakers which almost touched the ceiling, and everyone pressed closer to the band to jump up and down to two hours’ worth of classics.
And they played everything. From some of the Foo Fighters’ earliest songs to material from their new album, Sonic Highways, and even an acoustic version of ‘Times Like These’ during the encore. The band was so talented that, when I shut my eyes, I could have been at a real Foo Fighters concert; the lead singer, although from Yorkshire, nailed Grohl’s American twang. I was immediately caught up in the infectious atmosphere, surrounded by a rich mix of interesting people ranging from bearded, ageing rockers dancing like teenagers to little kids enthusiastically strumming air guitars.
The best thing about the night for me was the sense of comradeship – it was obvious from the various “FF” neck tattoos, and “Foo Family” t-shirts that these were some of the Foo Fighters’ biggest fans, and when the frontman said “this gig is for you Dave!” I realised that this was a gathering of people who love the band’s music so much that they’ll seek it out in even the most bizarre places.
Images: AMG Press