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Foo Fighters live at Glastonbury: a perfect and powerful return to the UK

Yes, Foo Fighters were the Churn Ups. And yes, they were brilliant.

5.0 rating

By Nick Reilly

Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters performs at Day 3 of Glastonbury Festival 2023 on June 23, 2023 (Photo by Ki Price/WireImage)

“You fucking knew it was us! We can’t keep secrets,” quips Dave Grohl, leader of the mysterious Churn-Ups, shortly after taking to Glastonbury’s Pyramid Stage.

For weeks, the Worthy Farm rumour mill has looked fit to collapse under the sheer amount of speculation about the identity of the unknown band performing an early Friday evening slot. It was Pulp’s name that was first bandied about, before some not-so cryptic clues meant that talk would turn to a little known American rock band called Foo Fighters.

And with the sun belting down on a picture perfect evening at Glastonbury, it’s the Foos that take to the Pyramid Stage shortly before 6.15PM in their first full UK performance since the tragic death of Taylor Hawkins in 2022.

Across 65 minutes that the rest of the weekend will have a tough job in topping, the rock giants go far in proving why Hawkins’ tragic death was never going to be the end of them.

Things kick off with ‘All My Life’, a smart choice given the track’s propensity to cause sheer bedlam from the moment that fans hear the chugging der-der-der of its guitar line. Right on cue, beers are thrown, mosh pits are ripped wide open and at the centre of the chaos, Grohl – like the ringmaster of the maddest circus on earth – is welcoming it all. It’s the perfect way to set the mood for the hour.

The bedlam is upped as the Motorhead-esque groove of ‘No Son Of Mine’ (complete with samples of Black Sabbath’s ‘Paranoid’ and Metallica’s ‘Enter Sandman’) arrives next, before Grohl explains that chat will be kept to a minimum in order to rip through as many songs.

It’s also an ideal opportunity for new drummer Josh Freese to show why he’s the perfect replacement for Hawkins. He injects his own muscular groove on the likes of ‘The Pretender’ but also respects the spirit of his inimitable predecessor.

At times, it is incredibly emotional too. A late highlight sees the group joined by Grohl’s 17-year-old daughter Violet for ‘Show Me How’, a track the pair penned for his late mother Virginia – who passed away a mere matter of months after Hawkins.

And as the set comes to a close with the likes of Slash and Paul McCartney standing side of stage, it’s Hawkins’ memory that is honoured by a fervent Glastonbury crowd.

“I would like to thank every one of you for sticking around for the last 28 years,” says Grohl.

“I’d like to dedicate this song to Mr Taylor Hawkins. So let’s sing this one loud as shit for Mr Taylor.” Claps and chants of Hawkins’ name immediately follow, before Grohl looks towards the sky in a tribute to his late and great friend.

Hawkins’ spirit will always loom large over the group, but tonight proves why Grohl – struck by huge tragedy for the second time in his music career – will always be one of rock’s great survivors.

Revitalised and ready to go, Foo Fighters also remain one of the most thrilling propositions in live music. It’s just a crying shame that Royal Blood – those dubiously self-proclaimed merchants of rock – will have to try and follow it up next.

Foo Fighters played:

‘All My Life’
‘No Son of Mine’
‘Learn to Fly’
‘The Pretender’
‘My Hero’
‘Show Me How’
‘Best of You’