21st Century Appearances: 2005 Main Stage Headliner, 2002 Main Stage Headliner, 2000 Main Stage
The Defining Reading Moment: Surprising everyone by turning the blistering “Monkey Wrench” into a shock set closer and sending everyone home screaming.
The Foo Fighters big Reading moment came in 1995. The passion was evident, Britain had been begging for a glimpse of Dave Grohl’s post-Nirvana outfit, the world was waiting, every one wanted to believe that Foo Fighters were the next big thing, they just needed some first hand evidence. In front of a legendarily jam packed Radio One Tent the Foos delivered, and set themselves up for a career of festival headline slots and a long love affair with Reading Festival.
By the year 2000 the Foos had little left to prove, they were steadily making waves in the mainstream with huge singles “Monkey Wrench”, “Everlong”, “Stacked Actors”, “Learn To Fly”, “Generator”, “Next Year”, “Breakout” and “My Hero” coming from breakthrough albums The Colour And The Shape and There Is Nothing Let To Lose. Just five years into their career and The Foos could already play a greatest hits set. They were ready to headline.
In 2002 they got their chance and didn’t let anyone down. The showmanship wasn’t quite there, but the energy was unparalleled and the songs, unassailable. Then newees “All My Life”, “Low” and “Times Like These” blew Reading apart, sparking huge sing and mosh-alongs. It quickly became clear that this band wrote songs on a bigger scale, they dared to be stadium when so many others were content with understatement. The riffs, the hooks, the cheeky smiles, the Foos had it all.
2005, while an undoubted triumph, also represented a stumbling block for one of the world’s biggest bands. Trying to broaden their gambit the Foos introduced the slower material from In Your Honour’s acoustic half and persisted with a limp rendition of “Everlong”. The crowd were polite and receptive, but there was a clearly a frustrated mood as the crowd waited for that next big stadium sized explosion. The Foos duly delivered with “Stacked Actors”, “For All The Cows” and “This Is A Call” reminding fans of the old days while “Best Of You” and “Times Like These” ensured the field stayed in good voice. Sadly, Grohl would mix in his now famously disingenuous and cheesy “this is my favourite festival”, “I love this place”, “I haven’t played drums in years” routine, which he’d go on to repeat at Isle Of Wight and V, but even the most cynical of Reading goers couldn’t help but smile at the sight of Dave Grohl behind the skins at Reading (shame about Taylor’s voice).
Still Foo Fighters had earnt their indulgences and showbiz moments, they were the biggest band in the world for good reason, and when they uncorked the stunning set closing scream-a-thon “Monkey Wrench” those quibbles and complaints were the last things on anyone’s mind. Bring on 2012. David Hayter