As the Waterloo sunset suffuses across the early evening sky, there's an audible hum of anticipation emanating from the four or five hundred people queued outside the House of Vans.
Tickets for tonight’s free show, the second of the Foo Fighter’s ‘secret’ UK club shows ahead of their headline slot closing the Invictus games, were released at 4pm on the previous afternoon, and naturally sold out in seconds. Everyone here knows they’re damned lucky.
“Who hasn’t seen Foo Fighters before?” Dave Grohl asks following a raucous singalong to My Hero.
Ten or twelve hands are raised, to loud cheers.
“Oh, were One Direction not playing tonight then? Thanks for coming…it only took you twenty fucking years!”
Grohl is in fine form tonight, flashing that toothy grin from the moment his band stroll onstage, fashionably late, and power into White Limo.
“Usually in these sort of situations we take advantage of our hot, sweaty captive audience and play shit that nobody likes,” he states following a gloriously heavy extended coda to Rope, but really, with such a partisan crowd here this evening, there’s no chance that things are going to fall flat. Arlandria and Generator separate songs one and four, before the first real surprise of the evening, a relatively rare outing for See You, from 1997’s The Colour and The Shape.
“I gotta be honest, when I see these bad ass heavy metal motherfuckers singing this sweet ass song my heart kinda melts,” the singer teases.
There are a few such treats tonight, in a set list that varies significantly from the previous evening’s show at the Concorde 2 in Brighton. The hardcore are delighted by a delightfully filthy blast through _Weenie Beenie _(“soooo ‘90s,” laughs Grohl), Skin And Bones is rendered as a kind of Balkan folk tune, complete with accordion solo, and New Way Home is greeted as if it were a jukebox standard.
We’re never more than four minutes away from another Foo’s standard, mind. The Pretender is arguably the song of the night, even with a wholly unnecessary Status Quo boogie riff inserted mid-way through, Learn To Fly - the Foo’s anthem least liked by the message board regulars - is borne aloft by hundreds of hoarse throats, and Breakout and Monkey Wrench incite frenzied mosh pit action.
The night is rounded off, inevitably, by a mass singalong to Everlong, boyfriends and girlfriends clutching one another’s hands as they harmonise on the sweet “Breathe out, so I can breathe you in…” lyric at the song’s core. One day, perhaps, over-familiarity will dull the edge of this singular composition, but that’s not going to happen any day soon.
Back in the dressing room, the band chug Coronas, pose for selfies with fans, and generally make everyone feel like special guests in their home. And then they’re gone, as several hundred dazed, delirious and sweaty punters stumble out into the night wondering if the past two hours have been a crazy dream.