Sunday, 8 June 2008

Foo Fighters @ The City of Manchester Stadium. June 2nd.

Review by Phil Winstanley

My first BIG gig, a chance for some Father & Son bonding as Andy and I entered this amazing stadium to see the Foo Fighters; arguably the biggest band on the planet at the moment. I’ve been going to gigs for the best part of 35 years but nothing like this.

As we were in the queue waiting to get in, the strains of “Design for Life” were ringing round the stadium - thankfully the last number from the Manic Street Preachers. I don’t know why, but I’ve never taken to the Manics. We shuffled through the crowd to take up position on about the halfway line (a midfield holding role). I couldn’t believe that in this huge crowd I had spotted someone I knew standing 6 feet away. After asking Andy to confirm it was he, so as not to make a complete turnip of myself I gave him a shout. None other than Subculture’s Matt Lee. He came over for a chat, asked Andy what Screwloose were up to, and went back to his friends ready for the onslaught. We didn’t have to wait long.

As the lights went down the beautiful sound of a cello swirled round the stadium, instantly recognised by the crowd as “The Pretender”. As the whole band kicked in, the place exploded as 40,000 devil horns reached skywards. Being my first open air gig I wondered how good the sound would be. I needn’t have worried - it was superb. I felt like a bit of a fraud. It seemed to me I was the only one who didn’t know every word to every song, as I glanced to my left to see the aforementioned Mr Lee belting out every song like a good ’un. By this time I was beginning to get slightly miffed by the quartet to my right, as they dived about standing on my feet and knocking me sideways. I told myself it was just the way people act at gigs these days, but I noticed they were talking to each other during songs and bursting into life when they heard a bit they recognised. Having had time to think about it, I think I was being a bit charitable; they were not music fans, just a bunch of ignorant drunken bastards. The band played for 2 hours, so to report on the whole set would take forever, but I will attempt to condense it. They played an acoustic set, and although I didn’t know the songs it was really enjoyable. Disappointingly, “My Hero” was part of this set, and I really wanted to hear it done as nature intended - LOUD. The pace picked up again with “Monkey Wrench” and for me, the stand out song on the night, “All My Life”, after which the band left the stage, only to come back for a four-song encore.

To sum it up, this was an amazing experience I would not have missed. We were treated to 2 hours of no nonsense rock 'n' roll. No gimmicks, no pyrotechnics, just an amazing band at the top of their game, giving it everything they’ve got, and more.

There is however, a sad ending to this story. I’m 54 years old this year and thought I could still go to gigs and pretend to be 19 again. Who was I kidding? Next day I felt like I had been 12 rounds with Ricky Hatton. I shall definitely go to more gigs, but I will find a section with seats for the old and infirm.

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