Ian Street, Gigs Correspondent

A Worthwhile Trip To Cardiff To See The Foo Fighters

All Photos: Ian Street
All Photos: Ian Street
So I don’t do stadium gigs. They are too big and expensive; you have to battle bots for a ticket; the artists appear as Lego characters viewed through the wrong end of a pair of binoculars; and you are effectively watching the band on screens. So why have I spent a lot of money and driven 5 hours to Cardiff to see the Foo Fighters? I don't have a great answer to this question, but the truth is that if you want to see the Foo Fighters, they won't be playing in the punk venues where they grew up. Given my fondness for Dave Grohl, I decided to bite the bullet and go.

If you want to go to a stadium, the Millennium is a cracker, not least because, unlike most big venues that are out of town, it is right in the middle of Cardiff City Centre. On a hot summer day, thousands fill the nearby pubs, spilling out into the streets in a joyful musical celebration, creating a carnival-like atmosphere. A brilliant game of band-t-shirt bingo can be played, and it’s clear that the audience is very eclectic. Punks, rockers, indie kids, millennials, Gen Zers, and old fossils like me. There is something about the vast swathe of humanity that is all enjoying themselves, and the commonality is palpable.

The Foos are, of course, one of the biggest rock bands on the planet, and sometimes we all need a little bit of old-fashioned rock in our lives. I find it interesting that this mainstream rock band come via their constituent parts from very radical roots: Scream, The Germs, Nirvana, No Use for a Name, Sunny Day Real Estate, The Vandals, and Devo, to namecheck a few of the bands that the members have played in. I was lucky to have seen Nirvana in a small club, and it’s amazing to think how Dave Grohl has climbed out from behind the drumkit and the tragic demise of his former band to create this behemoth of a band that he fronts with aplomb.

From the start, one thing is clear: the Foos are here to rock! They wear their rock credentials on their sleeves, teasing the crowd with slabs of Metallica and Sabbath, as Grohl wants to check the crowd know their rock history. It’s easy to forget just how many absolute classic tracks the Foos have put out over the years; track after track comes screeching along blasting the sun-baked crowd, who lap it up and are in fine voice. At one point, Grohl decides to have a screaming contest with 60,000 (mostly) Welsh people. It’s a close-run thing, but I think Grohl might have shaded it. It’s a full-on show, and it makes me wonder how on earth Grohl’s vocal chords can do this night after night.

Although the tickets for these gigs are pricey, to be fair to the Foos, they played full-frontal rock and roll for a solid 3 hours, which is no mean feat. I definitely didn’t feel short-changed, and they were ably supported by Wet Leg, who surprised me with their ability to create a full stadium sound. However, the most emotional moment of the night was when Shane Hawkins, the 17-year-old son of former Foos drummer Taylor Hawkins, who tragically died in 2022, came out to drum during the encore on This is a Cal;. The kid can sure play the drums, and it was a fitting end to a great classic rock gig that sent the tens of thousands happy into the warm Welsh night.