More about: Foo Fighters
Wembley Stadium and Foo Fighters will forever be intertwined in history, having served as a catalyst back in 2008 for the Foos to become the stadium band of our time. An appropriate setting, therefore, for Dave Grohl, Nate Mendel, Chris Shiflett, Pat Smear and Rami Jaffee - the five surviving members - to send off their late drummer and brother, Taylor Hawkins, last September. Alone with his Pelham Blue Gibson ES-335, Grohl delivered the gut-wrenching, solo version of ‘Everlong’ to close the six-hour show - fifteen years on from its first UK outing in that very spot.
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I wondered for a minute, on the verge of tears, if this was the pinnacle of collective human emotion; 90,000 people sharing in a monumental moment of remembrance. Just under a year later, we have But Here We Are - a comeback album that bottles those exact feelings, a rollercoaster of pain, grief and ultimately, goodbyes. No one does it quite like Dave Grohl.
Losing his mother Virginia just months after the passing of Hawkins, you can only imagine what Grohl has gone through this past year. Yet, just as in 1994 when he recorded Foo Fighters in under a week, music is his response to grief, arriving far earlier than any of us could have anticipated in the form of colossal lead single - and album opener - ‘Rescued.’ “Is this happening now?” Grohl belts over a quintessentially familiar wall of sound, echoing the fan sentiment of both disbelief and bliss: Foo Fighters are well and truly back.
"a rollercoaster of pain, grief and ultimately, goodbyes."
Comfortably their most anthemic record since 2011’s Wasting Light, Grohl displays his generational ability to channel the grief of the past year into a collection of those addictive, stadium-rock anthems that the Foos have pioneered over the years. ‘Under You’ revisits distant anecdotes of Hawkins with a nostalgic lead melody to match, while the groove-based verse of ‘Nothing At All’ descends into a noise-fest of self-release: “Now that all the feeling is gone / Everything or nothing at all.”
If there’s a breaking point on the album, however, it’s ‘The Teacher.’ Clocking in at a mammoth ten minutes and four seconds, Grohl pens his send-off to his late mother, a Fairfax County public school teacher of over thirty years. Nothing can quite prepare you for the end, as Grohl’s screams of “Goodbye” clip into static before abruptly cutting off, ringing in your ears like a heart monitor in a hospital. Nothing could prepare Grohl - or any of us, for that matter, for such heartache: “You showed me how to be, but never showed me how to say goodbye.”
"But Here We Are will come to be the most treasured Foo Fighters album of all"
‘Show Me How’ passes the familial baton down all the way to Grohl’s eldest daughter, Violet, who harmonises with her father throughout the song - the album’s only guest appearance. It’s a song of reassurance for the future, with both promising “I’ll take care of everything from now on” over a floaty instrumental section that feels straight out of 1999’s There Is Nothing Left To Lose. It’s the most explicit display of vulnerability on the album, with other tracks like ‘Hearing Voices’ and ‘Beyond Me’ weaving between stripped back sections and gargantuan choruses, clouding heavy subject matter with bombastic layers of cutting edge rock ‘n’ roll.
But Here We Are will come to be the most treasured Foo Fighters album of all, its sheer existence still feeling like a miracle. A core part of the process was completely reset, as Grohl began with the lyrics for the first time in his career. ‘Rest’ draws a line under But Here We Are with a closing remark of reconciliation: “In the warm Virginia sun / There I will meet you…”, the last lyric of the last song needed to close this chapter of mourning.
Now, with Josh Freese unveiled as their new touring drummer, the band can kick on with delivering the godlike tours we have come to take for granted, still standing tall with all guns blazing. “But Here We Are” yells Grohl, four words to let the people in the back know that the Foo Fighters are not going anywhere.
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More about: Foo Fighters