Live Review: Foo Fighters @ Ziggo Dome, Amsterdam – 5.11.15

Dave Grohl’s leg break has been one of 2015’s biggest musical talking points, something which isn’t surprising considering the obvious appeal he and his band Foo Fighters still have across the whole world. Even though the incident, which took place in Sweden on 12 June, has been and gone, the Foo’s are still touring heavily on the back of it, with Grohl in his own personal ‘throne’. 2014 album Sonic Highways looks set to be followed up in 2016, but before the band can do that they’re busy touring Europe one last time. Dubbed the Broken Leg Tour, Grohl and co. took to Amsterdam’s Ziggo Dome for a stellar show last night (5 November). Read on for a full live review.

New Orleans’ very own Trombone Shorty (backed by his band Orleans Avenue) opened the evening in front of a sparsely filled Ziggo Dome, performing 45-minutes worth of funk-infused rock, hip hop and rap. The crowd, albeit appreciative, weren’t very entertained for the duration, with many people choosing to talk at the bar or socialize amongst themselves. Not that this affected the band, though, who were on top form during their energetic set. Shorty was backed by a rhythm section, guitarist and two brass players as he himself also paraded around stage with a trombone and trumpet. The music occasionally edged towards borderline hard rock, giving off an impression of the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble on steroids. As a support band for Foo Fighters, it might not have been the best choice, yet on the whole Trombone Shorty and his band definitely got the evening off to a good start.

Foo Fighters took to the stage 15 minutes late, with a huge curtain adorning their now-famous logo cloaking the whole stage in obscurity until stage time. When the lights did finally dim and the band kicked into Everlong, it seemed like nothing could go right. As the curtain dropped, one part of it was left hanging from the ceiling, hiding Grohl and his throne from the view of
the crowd. Grohl stopped the song, instantly engaging with the crowd as he demanded the song be restarted. Once things were back up and running, it seemed like Grohl and co. (Chris Shiflett, Nate Mendel, Pat Smear, Taylor Hawkins & live member Rami Jaffee) had become unstoppable. Everlong’s huge choruses made way for Monkey Wrench, which saw Grohl’s throne move down the small catwalk towards the middle of the crowd. Just like with all the big hits which the band pulled out of the bag, Monkey Wrench was extended to the point where it almost doubled in not just length, but in memorability. Crowd interaction is absolutely key at a big arena show, and Grohl knows exactly how to push the right buttons. Classic track Learn to Fly followed instantly, also being given the extension treatment. “I’m looking to the sky to save me” sang Grohl, with the rest of his band full of energy as they powered through hit upon hit. Afterwards, Grohl took out some time to speak to the crowd as the band subsequently went straight into Sonic Highways’ lead single, Something From Nothing. It was the first of only two songs played from that album, which is quite surprising considering that this tour is in support of that record. The band nevertheless powered through the song effortlessly, all the way from its slow and subtle build up through to Grohl’s manic declaration of, “all rise!” and the subsequent rock-out that followed. It’s a massive Foo’s track, although in comparison to older hits it definitely presents itself as much darker and musically rich. The Pretender’s menacing intro and subsequent pounding percussion (courtesy of exquisite drummer Hawkins) made for an early highlight of the evening, with not a single silent voice in the 17,000-capacity Ziggo Dome. “What if I say I’ll never surrender?” asked Grohl, his vocal delivery absolutely tearing and soaring through the arena. The Pretender bears one of the Foo’s biggest build-ups, with Grohl taking out a few minutes afterwards to converse with the crowd. It’s something he’s always done well, telling the crowd a long story about his personal history with Amsterdam. “Amsterdam is one of the first places I wanted to live outside of my home” declared the frontman, making for cheers from the whole arena. His story led into an acoustic version of old track Big Me, which was met with a warm reception from a crowd full of die-hards and newer fans. As Grohl’s band rejoined the stage, Congregation turned the Ziggo Dome into one massive church where everyone worships the Gospel of the Foo’s. The song, which was recorded with Zac Brown in Nashville, is a mixture of euphoric chordal progressions, huge riffs and a build-up which makes for a huge outro. “Open your eyes, step into the light” screams Grohl during the build-up, his vocals underpinned by lightly pulsating percussion and keys. Congregation segued straight into show highlight Walk, which is by far one of the band’s most euphorically uplifting songs ever. “I never wanna die, I’m on my knees, I never wanna die” sang Grohl during the bridge section, as the song built up in intensity to a point where you’d think it couldn’t get any bigger. Getting bigger, though, is exactly what the band excel in. The show’s opening eight songs were just hit after hit after hit, laced with extended sections and huge crowd reactions.

By this point in the show, Grohl took it upon himself to introduce the rest of the band one by one, with each member inciting a small jam. Guitarist Chris Shiflett received the best reaction from the crowd, choosing to play Van Halen’s Eruption to satisfy the Dutch masses. The extended introduction section, which included a Taylor Hawkins call and response section a la Freddie Mercury, led into the Hawkins-led Cold Day in the Sun. It signalled the approximate halfway point in the show, with the second half of the show yet again filled with a continuous stream of hits. The one-two of My Hero and Times Like These particularly stood out, with both older tracks being received like old friends. “It’s times like these where you learn to live again” sang Grohl, before debut album track Breakout incited the first mosh pit of the evening. Its grunge-y undertones and catchy chorus intertwined nicely, leading into the heavy-as-fuck All My Life. Its instantly recognizable intro riff and frenetic breakdown were enough to get the crowd going. These Days was another big sing-a-long moment; in fact, every single song was a big sing-a-long moment. “Easy for you to say!” declared Grohl, his delivery yet again razor-sharp as per usual. There was no stopping the band by this point, with the bombastic Arlandria and brutal White Limo following. The former of grandeur at its best, whereas the latter just made for pure chaos. The chaos calmed down during Skin & Bones, which was perhaps the weakest moment of the evening. A little bossa nova section was incorporated into the track, which gave it a slight edge that set it apart from the rest. Debut album opener This is a Call was treated like an old hero, seguing straight into a spectacular cover of Pink Floyd’s In the Flesh, complete with a multitude of green lasers. Best of You brought the whole evening to an end, with the band having played non-stop for a good 2 hours now. If there’s ever a song which was made to close a show and unify a whole audience, then it’s Best of You. Its chanted closing section echoed through the whole venue (and surrounding area) until well after the show was over, proving once again the longevity and universal appeal of Foo Fighters. Having not played a ‘proper’ (i.e. not festival) show in Holland for nine years, and having cancelled Pinkpop this summer, last night’s Ziggo Dome was a welcome return for the band who have it all. They’ve got the hits, they have the power and they have a frontman who also doubles up as the nicest man in music, Dave Grohl. He may talk a hell of a lot, but all of it is with good humour, passion and positivity. Foo Fighters are the biggest band in the world right now, and there isn’t much more they can do now apart from keep powering onwards. 2016 will be a break year for the band, with new music expected to surface at some point as well. Right now, though, all people can do is reminisce at the memorable imprint Grohl and co. have left on Holland, more than making up for this year’s cancelled appearances. Welcome back to Holland, guys.

Both pictures were taken at Rock am Ring by Natasja de Vries for All Things Loud.