They smashed our battle of the bands poll, and they’re going to absolutely smash it at Reading 2012 – The Foo Fighters are just that good live, but it begs the question: What are the Foos’ best live tracks?
Well Strictly has its 10 choices from very specific time periods because, like all the great live acts, The Foos have changed over years. Certain tracks were better then than now, while others simple don’t have the same tenure of their forebears, and we want a nice level playing field. So to be clear, we’re talking about The Foos all time best, not just at this specific moment in time.
So let’s get to it!
10. “For All The Cows” (1995-1998)
Back in 1995 Dave Grohl was still living in Nirvana’s shadow, and unsurprisingly his new band’s self-titled debut relied heavily on Nirvana’s Quiet-Loud formula. However, Foo Fighters never really were like Nirvana. Where Kurt Cobain was insular, bleak, and scathing, Dave Grohl was melodious displaying an incredibly light touch.
“For All The Cows” perfectly captures both the differences and similarities between Nirvana and The Foos. It quickly became a live staple, with handclaps sparking instantly before, at the one and a half minute mark, fields went pogo-crazy. The response was so overwhelming at The Foos’ legendary 1995 Reading set that the band quickly released the performance as a B-side to then single “Big Me”.
Sadly there is no footage of the brilliant 1995 set, so instead, enjoy this stunning performance from the Reading main stage in 1998.
9. “Best Of You” (2005-2008)
The regular airing of “Best Of You” now feels rather arbitrary; you know it’s coming, you know it’s going to be loud, and you practically set your watch by it. Back between 2005 and 2008 it seemed like the greatest moment in every gig goers year. Quite simply, nobody was writing sing alongs this big and this transparently obvious.
“Best Of You” never hides its shameless sing along style, but in those early days the snarling angst Grohl displayed in the rasping verse allowed the track to side step contrivance. The big dip in volume at the false finale was always a highlight that could cut the often ferocious atmospheres with a knife, allowing even the bludgeoning “Best Of You” a moment of quiet solace.
8. “White Limo” (2011-Present)
When Dave Grohl said he was getting back to his garage band roots it was hard to take him seriously. I mean honestly, how many stadium-sized superstars say that, and then actually do it?
Well Wasting Light was hardly Bleach, but it did take more risks than you’d expect from what could be considered a mid life crisis record. “White Limo” the best live track to emerge from the new LP, saw Grohl howling like never before, and the boys in the band thrashing and pounding their way through a fierce three and a half minutes. It’s not exactly inventive, and it’s not the Foos most polished moment (even if they do shoehorn in a melodious little chorus), but it is the most exhilarating and hungry the band have sounded in quite sometime.
7. “This Is A Call” (1995-2000)
A live staple for a long stretch, the album opener from the band’s self-titled debut captured a fearsome hunger that The Foos have never quite recaptured (even if they tried on “White Limo”). The truth is, they were hungry back then, and it really shows – the band had something to prove and they truly threw themselves into each and every performance. For a five year stretch the crowd would respond in kind, as the track drew some of the most intense moshing at festivals across the world. “This Is A Call’s” jerky but intense rhythm incited riots. Today “This Is A Call” is more of a stray concession, a moment for Dave Grohl to see if anyone still remembers those early days that must seem a million miles away in 2012.
6. “Breakout” (2000-2005)
Every great band has a song that they just love to have fun with, that gives them chance to just cut loose, and for Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters it was “Breakout”. The music video was silly enough, but the live performances were just epic. Double drum kit openings, slowed down massive sing along, leaving the entire first verse to the crowd, and of course a feral scream session from Dave at the track’s conclusion. Each performance was different and every crowd left with a unique sensation. For a good five year stretch “Breakout” never felt like a formality, it had a life of its own.