In wake of the utterly heroic Invictus Games being played out over the past few days, it only seems fit for a band of equally titanic stature to close proceedings. While James Blunt was undoubtedly a highlight for the cucumber sandwich-munching minority (whacking out You're Beautiful two songs into his set? Mad bastard!), for the majority of the crowd, tonight's entertainment was always going to be about Foo Fighters wiping the floor with the likes of Ellie Goulding, The Kaiser Chiefs and, er, The Vamps.
One heartfelt speech and Mexican Wave initiated by Prince Harry (yes, really) later, the Foos saunter on stage churning out the unmistakable staccato rumble of All My Life – and by doing so, they re-affirm their status as the biggest rock band since, well, Nirvana. Unlike Black Sabbath’s Hyde Park gig back in July, each and every human being in this 26,000 capacity hole has Foo Fighters lyrics etched into the very core of their brain; the kid in the Darkthrone shirt knows it; the moustachioed gent in tweed knows it and the lummox two-stepping on his tod most certainly knows it. It’s a euphoric, strangely unifying atmosphere that’s seldom seen at events such as this one.
Strapped for time, Dave Grohl and co. race against the clock in an attempt to deliver the warm, sticky hits in typical Foo fashion: hard, heavy and with enough grit to keep us through a good five winters. Come on, though – All My Life, Times Like These, The Pretender, Learn To Fly and My Hero all being consecutively slammed into innocent eardrums is a feat most bands couldn’t pull off if they wanted to. Who can actually rival the Foos in these stupendous sing-along stakes? Springsteen? Madness? AC/DC? The list is minuscule.
With the near-legendary status of the songs being aired tonight, you’d expect a certain calibre of musician to be widdling them out. Naturally, Foo Fighters bring their absolute A-game, utilising Grohl’s talismanic charm as a channel for audience activity. Dedicating My Hero to the participants of the Invictus Games could come off a little cheesy and disingenuous from the mouth of another [also see: James Blunt dedicating You’re Beautiful to Prince Harry), but Grohl’s humble delivery really gives gravitas to the situation, lending an even larger dollop of winning to the inevitable shout-along melody.
The rest of the Foos are quite simply bossing it; Pat Smear is still the coolest geezer on the entire planet and Taylor Hawkins just twats his drumskins like he hates them; White Limo remains as unquestionably tight live as it does on record, leaving a few part-timers a little confused/terrified. Basically, this band could be playing a three-hour set of Barry White covers and it’d still sound like the best thing since free Wi-Fi.
Climaxing with the anthemic throes of Best Of You and Everlong followed by completely unnecessary streams of confetti, - “Toilet paper’s on us!”, smirks Grohl – a set basically full of hits draws to a close. Amidst the March Of The Penguins-esque queue for the London Underground, a child pipes up to his Father: “But Daddy, they didn’t play Monkey Wrench!”
And there you have it – in what is essentially a greatest hits set, the only problem is that all the hits couldn’t be included. But no matter, whining child. With the Foos allegedly returning next year for a week-long residency at our very own Wembley Stadium, you’ll see Monkey Wrench – in fact, you’ll probably bear witness to twice the amount of songs you heard today. With a back-catalogue spanning nearly twenty years and one of the greatest live shows in music, the Foo Fighters are now more than just a band. They’re a cultural institution.