Tennent's Vital: Foo Fighters - A stripped-down, heavy-duty blast of garage rock
Published 23/08/2012 | 00:00
After stints in Botanic Gardens, Ormeau Park and Bangor's Ward Park, Tennent's Vital moved into its new home at Boucher Road Playing Fields last night.
And the tree-lined arena, with its spectacular views of the Belfast hills, was the coolest spot so far for Northern Ireland's top summer rock festival.
The rain obligingly held off for the heavy-duty opening night, headlined by US superstars the Foo Fighters, with special guests the Black Keys, alternative acts the Cribs and the Minutes, and local metal team Trucker Diablo, plus a host of upcoming bands on the Tennent's Untapped stage.
After the Black Keys did their stripped-down, retro, garage-rock thing, the Foo Fighters made their appearance as the sun was setting over the mountains.
There were no intro tapes, no drawn-out announcements — just singer and guitarist Dave Grohl tearing the opening chords of White Limo from his instrument as he charged to centre-stage.
Grohl (right) isn't the first member of grunge icons Nirvana to return to Belfast since that band's legendary King's Hall show in June 1992. Twenty years is a long time between visits, but in fact many of last night's 30,000-strong crowd wouldn't even have been born the last time Grohl was here.
That didn't stop him reminiscing. After pausing atop Taylor Hawkins's drum-riser to survey the audience, scratching his beard in sage-like contemplation, Grohl approached the mic: “I waited too f***ing long, man.”
Not that he wanted to dwell on his former group.
Recognising that many in the crowd were probably seeing the band for the first time, Grohl promised they would play for “a long f***ing time”.
“We've got a lot of records; we've got a lot of songs,” he teased.
Grohl was true to his word, delivering hits, album tracks and covers alike. By little over 35 minutes into the two-and-a-half-hour set, they had cranked out All My Life, The Pretender, My Hero and Learn to Fly. As darkness descended over Boucher Road Playing Fields, the chatty Grohl realised time was against them.
“If we keep talking, we'll not be able to play the 29 songs we're supposed to tonight,” he grinned.
So, it was a heads-down, no-nonsense charge to the finishing line. Highlights included a high-octane Monkey Wrench, debut single This Is a Call and Noughties anthem Best of You.