Image for Foo Fighters @ Goat Island, Sydney (24/3/2011)

Foo Fighters @ Goat Island,Sydney (24/3/2011)

“If your favourite rock band only play an hour twenty, they suck! If your favourite rock band only play an hour fourty-five, they fucking suck!”

Foo Fighters have a reputation in Australia as the most audience-devoted, hard-working of rockstars, and it’s built on nights like tonight – a promo gig turned marathon set. And this arena-rock romance has seen their consistent visits rewarded with equally consistent sold-out shows, fawning media attention and a huge Australian following. Frontman Dave Grohl’s reputation as one of mainstream rock’s nicest frontmen doesn’t hurt either – genuinely kind gestures like hanging out with trapped miners and playing disaster benefits have afforded him some well-earned respect.

So in Australia, Foo Fighters are a big deal. By extension, an album release is also a big deal, with big gestures to generate big buzz. And they don’t come much bigger than a one-off show on the edge of an island, with the Sydney Harbour Bridge as a backdrop. And so a few hundred media, industry and lucky competition winners found themselves aboard a ferry en route to Goat Island to see Foo Fighters perform their forthcoming record Wasting Light in full.

With the album opening the set, it’s hard to tell whether it’s a record that gets better as it goes on, or whether the group just needed time to loosen up. The front half of the album was stacked with meat-and-potatoes rock, which will thrill some but generally finds the group playing it too safe. But thankfully it gets better, with the Queens Of The Stone Age-esque single White Limo bringing in a better run of songs that continues to improve – the closing duo of I Should Have Known and Walk are the album’s best tracks.

You can usually predict the narrative of a promo gig like this – short and succinct, with the band playing through an arsenal of new material with a few crowd pleasers sprinkled in. Maybe a few more old favourites for shows like tonight’s, where there are TV cameras and competition winners to charm. But Foo Fighters had other ideas, immediately launching into an extended greatest-hits set that seemed to take everyone – from the label and industry folks upstairs to the devoted riff-raff downstairs and the television cameras putting everything to tape – by surprise.

And so the band tore through over an hour of hits, beginning with a thunderous All My Life that brought the placid crowd to life, and ending with Everlong – a highlight of the show and arguably the band’s best song. In between, a jammed-out Stacked Actors saw Grohl move through the crowd and up to the balcony, a Grohl lookalike was brought onstage and serenaded with Up In Arms, and huge singles like My Hero, Learn To Fly, Monkey Wrench and Big Me thrilled the crowd.

That was just the main set. The encore became an endurance test, with five songs getting an airing before what would usually be a ridiculous request – for ten more songs – was actually taken on by the band. It seemed entirely impromptu, and made for some fun choices – Prince’s Darling Nikki got covered, and seldom-played tracks like See You and Butterflies were spontaneously played on stage.

And that’s where the group really shone – out of their comfort zone, and revelling in it. While a strictly-enforced curfew at the three hour mark stopped the group a couple of songs short of their ten song target, it was hard to complain, especially when they ended with the underrated Aurora and closer-of-choice This Is A Call.

If anything, such a huge set overshadowed the new album that they were playing in support of, doing a much better job of suggesting their place as a legendary act than pushing new material. But when the group end the set looking tired but delighted, thanking the unusually small audience for allowing them “the chance to be the band that [they] are – a loose, sloppy barefoot rock band”, it doesn’t really matter anymore. When a band can put on shows like this, they’ll keep selling records and filling arenas. And for good reason.

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Yaki said on the 24th Mar, 2011

Sound as though you're one lucky kid! Nice one.


grattan said on the 24th Mar, 2011

Here's the setlist from

1. Bridge Burning
2. Rope
3. Dear Rosemary
4. White Limo
5. Arlandria
6. These Days
7. Back & Forth
8. A Matter of Time
9. Miss The Misery
10. I Should Have Known
11. Walk
12. All My Life
13. Times Like These
14. Generator
15. Learn To Fly
16. My Hero
17. Up in Arms
18. Long Road to Ruin
19. Big Me
20. Cold Day in the Sun
21. Stacked Actors
22. Skin and Bones
23. Monkey Wrench
24. Hey, Johnny Park!
25. Everlong

26. The Pretender
27. Breakout
28. Best of You
29. For All The Cows
30. Young Man Blues (The Who cover)
31. Enough Space
32. Darling Nikki (Prince cover)
33. Wattershed
34. See You
35. I'll Stick Around
36. Butterflies
37. Aurora
38. This is a Call


MorningAfterboy said on the 24th Mar, 2011

Oh man, I'm so glad this went to you. Amazing write-up.


feelingsinister said on the 24th Mar, 2011

Amazing setlist. Pretty cut I missed out on tickets to this!

They've been hinting on Facebook and Twitter about something happening tonight. I wonder if they'll announce another show...


esquared said on the 24th Mar, 2011

thanks for the generous words all. grattan, that setlist is bringing back warm memories.

echoing what feelingsinister said, i would keep a close eye. foo fighters' twitter is making it sound like there'll be another show tonight, and i've heard similar murmurs...


JackT said on the 25th Mar, 2011

Shit! That's a huge show


jhf92 said on the 25th Mar, 2011

one minute ago: Tonite. Manning Bar Tix on sale @ NOON @HumMusicGroup Oxford St @redeyerecords King St 1 tickt per. 18 details


berlinchair101 said on the 25th Mar, 2011

Foo fighters just announced a show at the Manning Bar tonight...


crob said on the 25th Mar, 2011

awesome awesome awesome.... should leave office now.


de-tec-tive said on the 25th Mar, 2011

holy crap that sounds amazing!


nojameslikeholmes said on the 25th Mar, 2011

really enjoyed reading this. excellent review


Hinee said on the 25th Mar, 2011

That set sounds simply amazing. I thought the 2.5hr pearl jam set was simply a marathon, this is something else


ellalily said on the 25th Mar, 2011

one of the best shows i've ever seen them play, and that was no. 29 for me. no. 30 comes tonight at the manning. bring it on, boys.


andy_chalmers_102 said on the 25th Mar, 2011

Great review. This was easily the best concert I've ever been to. The encore was simply incredible, and all the new songs sounded great too.


justjeans said on the 25th Mar, 2011

thank you so much for that review, really enjoyed it.


shazie said on the 25th Mar, 2011

Same here, absolute legends. Had a smile on my face the entire set. Also screamed like a girl when they played the opening riff to generator. One of my all-time favorite songs. Can't believe how many old songs they played as well!

Stefan Beck

Stefan Beck said on the 25th Mar, 2011

I don't care much for the Foo Fighters music but I still think they're cool dudes and stuff like this ridiculously long set is the reason why.


ThatDude123 said on the 25th Mar, 2011

Have to agree with Stefan; Dave just seems like one of the few real nice dudes left in mainstream music. Good on him.


luckymedumbsh1t said on the 25th Mar, 2011

review awesome! where's the pix????


Grohlite said on the 6th Jul, 2011

this was one of the most awesome nights of my life. i could relive it over & over till the end of my days...although it might tire the boys out, was pretty epic!