Review by: Stuart Bowen
Artist: Foo Fighters [score 5/5]
Prowling on stage like a depraved amalgam of The Child Catcher, Willy Wonka and Colonel Sanders, the always-entertaining Serj Tankian ripped into a set taken from his new album and first solo-effort, Elect the Dead, with the kind of vigour and ferociousness that was too much for both the small portion of stage he and his band were afforded, and some of the O2 Arena crowd. Sporting the collective look of a dog who had just been shown a card trick, the majority of the Foo Fighters-expecting throng didn't appear to 'get' Serj and this (for this fan and reviewer at least) was the biggest injustice of an otherwise barmy and barnstorming set. Serj tipped his top hat, marched on the spot and fell to his knees throughout 'Empty Walls', 'Sky is Over' and 'Praise the Lord...', spitting the kind of political vitriol/sing-along harmonies that we associate with his band, System of a Down. But, as in the best tradition of the spaghetti western towns that Serj appeared to be dressed as sherriff of, maybe there just wasn't enough room in the O2 for two showmen, because as the lights dimmed and the roadies cleared for the main show, the undisputed nicest man in rock was loitering in the shadows...
The Foo Fighters fire-bombed the whole touch paper shop with opener, 'Let it Die' from new album Echoes, Silence, Patience, Grace, slithering neatly in to 'The Pretender' before the Dave Grohl show truly kicked off. Dressed in black and with his hair wild and frenzied, he had the sold out crowd hanging on every drawled, expletive-ridden sentence. With the promise to play 'old shit, new shit, some loud shit and some acoustic shit,' it was the vow to play 'some shit that will turn your balls blue' that drew the loudest cheer so far and the Foo Fighters did not side-step this manifesto from their leader once in a thunderous two-hour set that included crowd-favourites 'My Hero', 'Everlong' and 'Monkey Wrench'. There was even time for an acoustic mini-stage to be lowered from the centre of the arena ceiling, which heralded the arrival of not only former band mate and Nirvana collaborator Pat Smear, violinist Jessie and Drew the triangle soloist (!?), but also Brian May and Roger Taylor from Queen for a rousing rendition of '39' from 'A Night at the Opera'. As the crowd drew breath, if only to bay and howl for more after the band had said goodnight, the giant screens behind the stage suddenly lit with a familiar toothy grin, a shot of the already-fulfilled set list and the mischevious members trying to decide how many extra songs the crowd really deserved! And despite claiming to never reherse this kind of thing, the Foos well and truly christened the O2 arena as a future rock venue by ensuring that a balls-turning-blue version of 'For All the Cows' and a malevolent 'Weenie Beenie' will still be reverberating around the cavernous interior for years to come.