Live Review: NME Big Gig Featuring Foo Fighters, Cee Lo Green, Band of Horses and No Age @ London Wembley Arena – 25th February 2011

By on Tuesday, 1st March 2011 at 2:00 pm
 

Words by John Fernandez

This NME Big Gig at London’s Wembley Arena may have been billed as a concert headlined by Foo Fighters (pictured above) and supported by Cee Lo Green, Band of Horses and No Age, but that night it was all about Dave Grohl. Godlike Genius Dave Grohl. Only 2 days after Grohl received his award at the NME Awards he was back doing what he does best, rocking arenas with choruses the size of skyscrapers and riffs galore.

The night was opened by Los Angeles trio No Age. Sadly, the less said about this band the better. It was hard that evening to see the appeal of this band; maybe it was the fact that the sound wasn’t great for the first band of the evening, but the crowd (myself included) failed to find any connection with the indie newcomers. For a lot of their relatively short set it was hard to distinguish why there was any need for a third member of the band, as the synths were inaudible over the incessant drums and screeching guitar. However, they are a young band and are relatively impressive on record, so maybe with time their sound may mature. Sadly though, it was just not their night.

Following on from No Age were Seattle 5-piece Band of Horses, a band who, despite being in an unfamiliar arena setting, managed to deliver a fantastic set. With tunes like ‘The Great Salt Lake’ and ‘The Funeral’, Band of Horses definitely proved there were big things to come from them in the future.

The task of truly warming up for Foo Fighters came down to one man, Cee Lo Green. Coming on to a spoken intro from his album ‘The Ladykiller’ (reviewed on TGTF here), Cee Lo immediately owned the arena; all eyes were on him and he knew it. He had noticeably ‘rocked up’ for this gigs coming onstage in a Ramones t-Shirt and leather jacket. After the intro, he burst into a short set which included Gnarls Barkley hits ‘Crazy’ and ‘Smiley Faces’. Set closer ‘F**k You’ was given a rock edge for the night’s performance as it was played to the riff of the Clash’s ‘Rock the Casbah’.

It was 9 o’clock by the time that the thunderous roar of ‘Burning Bridges’ off the Foo’s forthcoming, yet-unreleased record ‘Wasting Light’ tore through Wembley Arena. Starting with a new song, let alone an unreleased song that people have only heard 30 seconds of, was a bold move. But such is the adoration held towards the ex-Nirvana sticks-man that nobody seemed to care. And who can blame them? The man oozes charm and confidence even when he is screaming behind a microphone.

Four new songs from the new LP were given their first arena outing that evening, including first single ‘Rope’ (reviewed by Luke last week), Valentine’s Day teaser ‘White Limo’ (video here) and arguably the catchiest of the four, ‘These Days’. All 4 songs were met with adoration from the crowd, but as you would expect from a band that could easily release two greatest hits albums, it was the older songs that got better reception. ‘All My Life’ and set closer ‘Best of You’ arguably evoked the best crowd reaction as expected. But for me, the highlight of the night had to be first ever Foo single ‘This is a Call’. That said, throughout the gig there were numerous high points, one being a change over in the reigns with drummer Taylor Hawkins taking over lead vocal duties for ‘Cold Day in the sun’.

By the end of the gig, it was easy to tell it wasn’t just the crowd that was loving this. No, the smile on Dave Grohl’s face showed enough that he is back doing what he loves. Playing big tunes to a lot of people with his band. Summer festivals and their July gigs at Milton Keynes await.

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