Foo Fighters Live

Foo Fighters - Top 10 Live performances of the last decade

By Simon Kilmore

We rank our favourite shows from the last decade - will you agree with our choices?

Title of article image

Following on from our article a couple of days ago looking back at the last decade of Foo Fighters, today we’re going to focus on the live shows and choose our top 10 of the past 10 years. Which ones stood out to us at FooFightersLive? Naturally we weren’t in attendance at every show and so couldn’t possibly take every performance into account but of those we were at, or that we have recording of, we have attempted to decide on the best and put them into some sort of order.

10. September 5th, 2012 – The Fillmore, Charlotte, NC

Touring in support of ‘Wasting Light’ finally came to an end in the fall of 2012 and one of their last appearances was at the Democratic National Convention taking place in Charlotte, North Carolina. The band were only scheduled to play a handful of songs acoustically so the day before they also booked a show at the nearby Fillmore to support of Rock The Vote, a non-profit group which aims to engage young people in politics and voting.

The 2000 fans who were lucky enough to get tickets and attend were treated to one of the longest ever Foo Fighters shows with 35 full tracks played in a three hour twenty minute set. Only one show has gone longer in terms of songs played and a select few have reached that 3hr 30m mark.

Photo: Pieter Cargill
Photo: Pieter Cargill

The band ran through their hits as is usually the case but the long set was also littered with deep-cuts and lesser played tracks such as ‘Winnebago’, ‘Aurora’, ‘New Way Home’, ‘Alone + Easy Target’, ‘Exhausted’ and ‘Enough Space’. A handful of covers were also thrown into the set including Tom Petty’s ‘Breakdown’, ‘Young Man Blues’ and a very rare performance of the Wings song ‘Jet’, only played on two other occasions for a public audience.

A recording of the show was known to exist shortly afterwards but it wasn’t until Christmas Day later that year we got to hear it which you can check out below. Some videos of various songs are also available on YouTube, but this is the only complete recording.

9. November 28th 2014 – The Showbox, Seattle, WA

To promote the band’s 2014 album ‘Sonic Highways’ and documentary of the same name Foo Fighters revisited the eight cities that they had recorded at in earlier that year, playing a small show in each city the night that the corresponding episode of the documentary premiered on HBO in the United States. The penultimate stop came in Seattle with the band playing a show at the Showbox, a 1150 capacity venue that opened in the city in 2007.

The show started in a very surprising manner, the B-Side ‘Winnebago’ opening the set in a blast from the past. Next came a rare performance of the Sonic Highways track ‘The Feast And The Famine’ followed by a long mixture of hits and album tracks. ‘Wattershed’ was played for the first time in two years and the track recorded in Seattle a few months earlier, ‘Subterranean’, was also given it’s debut (and so far only) performance.

It almost didn’t happen though with Dave seemingly hesitant to play the song, producer Butch Vig having to get on stage to encourage the performance. The fact it hasn’t been played since would perhaps suggest the band are not too fond of it or don’t think it works too well live but alas, it was nice to hear just this once.

The show ended with ‘Everlong’ as most shows this decade did but the penultimate song was another surprise, the band pulling out their old closing song, ‘Exhausted’. Dave’s friend Barrett Jones who first recorded the song with him way back in 1992 also joined the band on stage for the performance.

For those of us not lucky enough to attend a fan was on hand to record the entire show, the result of which was great quality. You can find the recording in FLAC quality online for the best listening experience but it’s also available to listen to on Youtube

8. April 5th, 2011 – Studio 606, Northridge, CA

We’ve chosen something a little different for eighth place. 2011 saw the simultaneous release of Foo Fighters seventh studio album ‘Wasting Light’ and a career retrospective documentary, ‘Back And Forth’. The documentary premiered at US Theaters on April 5th and following the screening a live performance from the bands 606 HQ was beamed via Satellite into the theaters. The same happened a few days later in other countries although of course the performance was then not live.

The band played the entire album start to finish as they had already done on several occasions by that point, but this was the first time it would be openly broadcast. Foo Fighters always step it up a gear when they know their performances are being broadcast to thousands or even millions of people and this was no exception, despite there being no real audience in the studio other than crew members, producer Butch Vig and engineer James Brown.

Each performance was strong from the powerful ‘Walk’ to the emotional ‘I Should Have Known’. Throughout the performance Dave Grohl had a K sticker on his guitar, a reference to Kurt Cobain on the anniversary of his death.

The video on YouTube has now been seen by over 11 million people.

7. June 12th, 2015 – Ullevi Stadium, Gothenburg, Sweden

Yes, that one. It may seem a little odd to include a show which saw Dave Grohl badly shatter his leg falling from the stage in a list of favourites but what followed that mishap made it a unique and special show.

The show started like many others on the Sonic Highways tour, with ‘Everlong’ kicking things off followed by Monkey Wrench. The band were just over a minute into the second song when Dave decided to make one of his usual strolls about the stage.

Unfortunately for him there appeared to be a loose wire and, well, we all know what happened next. “I think I just broke my leg” Grohl announced, following his dramatic 10ft tumble.

So, pretty bad show so far. Taylor told the shocked crowd they were going to play a couple of songs without Dave just to give them a little more entertainment, but then that would be the end of the evening.

Again, as we all know, Grohl had other ideas. After Dave-less performances of ‘Cold Day In The Sun’ and a cover of The Faces track ‘Stay With Me’ crew members inform the band that amazingly Dave wants to return. Sure enough, Dave is carried back on stage and placed in a chair, a doctor holding his badly fractured leg in place.

Dave, the leg and doctor. Photo: Unknown
Dave, the leg and doctor. Photo: Unknown

And so what followed was quite a special performance which will surely remain in the memories of the band and fans alike for years to come. Dave remained in his chair for over two hours, just leaving the stage for five minutes to get a cast on his leg.

With no running around from Dave each performance took on a different quality, with several standout performances. ‘My Hero’ and ‘Times Like These’ were performed acoustically at the end of the runway, Chris playing guitar whilst Dave sang standing on crutches. ‘Walk’ was a particularly fitting song to perform and ‘These Days’ featured improvised lyrics about the incident.

There was even a nice throwback performance as they included ‘Enough Space’ in the setlist, a song that the band gave a live debut to in Sweden, in 1995.

Thankfully the unique show was captured by fans with a great quality complete audio recording by ‘Jontebus’ and an almost complete video shot by ‘sreddan’ available online.

6. February 24th, 2017 – Cheese And Grain, Frome, UK

As a result of the above incident several shows that summer had to be cancelled, including their headline slot at Glastonbury Festival. As much as they wanted to perform at the iconic festival, Dave’s doctors said it just wasn’t possible.

Two years later with Dave’s legs both in full working order the band were again booked to appear on the Pyramid stage. They didn’t just want to announce it with a few posts on social media however. Instead, they concocted an elaborate promo event which involved a fictional airline and fans invited to attend a small private show via airline tickets.

Photo: @RachMcP72
Photo: @RachMcP72

For those not lucky enough to attend the show was broadcast live worldwide via the internet. The two hour set featured a typical mixture of hits and deep cuts including a debut performance of the Saint Cecilia track ‘Sean’. The crowd were almost treated to another track from the EP as the band were heard soundchecking ‘The Neverending Sigh’ but sadly it didn’t make it to the actual show.

What did appear during the set however was something very special. Unbeknown to most of the planet at the time they had already almost entirely recorded a new album back in California and two tracks were teased during the set, with part of ‘La Dee Da’ played in the middle of ‘The Pretender’ and ‘Run’ similarly slotted into ‘This Is A Call’ later in the set.

Fans went crazy wondering just what they had heard but it would be months until the cat was let out of the bag and it became clear they were teasers of two brand new Foo Fighters songs.

The ‘La Dee Da’ interlude wasn’t the only change to ‘The Pretender’ as Dave also referenced a mashup by the well-known internet personality DJ Cummerbund. The Foo Fighters hit was mixed primarily with the Rick James track ‘Super Freak’ but also incorporated the Beach Boys track ‘Help Me Rhonda’. Dave threw in a quick reference to both tracks during the performance, showing his appreciation for the mash-up.

The tail end of the set saw the band going old school with a raft of tracks from the debut album – ‘Wattershed’, ‘Big Me’ and ‘For All The Cows’. That was followed by the fan favourite ‘Enough Space’ before the band rounded the set out with the classic ‘Everlong’.

All-in-all it was quite a show just to announce another show! The webcast was captured by several fans allowing us to watch back the entire performance whenever we desire.

5. August 26th 2012 – Reading Festival, Reading, UK

It’s safe to say Foo Fighters have something of an affinity with the Reading Festival. Dave Grohl first experienced the UK Festival in 1991 with Nirvana and then again the following year for their well-known headline festival. Foo Fighters then made an equally memorable debut at the festival in 1995, thousands of people cramming into a tent to get a glimpse of Dave’s new band.

As of 2019 the band have now appeared at the festival seven times and making our list is their headline slot in 2012. The band were winding down on their hugely successful world tour in support of ‘Wasting Light’ and knowing they wouldn’t be on British shores for some years, they put on quite the show.

The set started in a raucous manner with ‘White Limo’ and the band then ploughed through their back catalogue of hits with high energy. That is probably about all any big fans in the audience were expecting from the show, given that it was a festival slot catering to thousands of casual or even non-fans. When the band went into ‘Hey, Johnny Park!’ midway through the set you might have been forgiven thinking that was the ‘rare’ song for the night. I was there, and the thought certainly crossed my mind. But no.

“This one’s special for you Reading. We haven’t done this one in a long fucking time” Dave Grohl announced at the end of the track, before busting into ‘Alone + Easy Target’ from the debut record. Grohl was right, the last time it had been played was 2008 and only twice into total since 2000.

Next came ‘Bridge Burning’, ‘This Is A Call’ and a cover of the Pink Floyd track ‘In The Flesh?’, things seemingly returning to a pretty standard fare. So, ‘Alone + Easy Target’ was the treat. Nice.

Nope, there was more. For the encore the band decided to go into full on Reading 1995 throwback mode. ‘Winnebago’ was played back-to-back with ‘Wattershed’ just like the old days and they were followed by ‘For All The Cows’. At this point the ‘nerds’ as Dave playfully refers to us were on cloud 9. Hearing so much of the debut record in 2012, at such a huge festival, was quite a treat.

They still weren’t done. In one final tribute to their 1995 appearance they played the song that ended the show that night, ‘Exhausted’. It was the first time they had played the song in nine years and was the perfect way to cap off the “blast from the past” part of the show. The band then went into the song they usually end shows with in the present day, ‘Everlong’, to finally close out the show.

The entire set was broadcast live in the UK on the BBC which meant fans around the world could later enjoy the special set once recordings were shared online.

4. March 24th, 2011 – Goat Island, Sydney, Australia

Leading up to release of their first album of the decade the band headed off around the world on a typical short tour to promote the record. Following shows at home and Europe the band then arrived in Australia in March 2011 for three shows down under.

The first of those was arranged in conjunction with local TV station Channel V and saw several hundred lucky fans shipped out to an island in the middle of Sydney Harbor for a very special and unique show.

As they had been doing in shows previous, the set started out with all eleven songs on the new album (then still unreleased) played in order, start to finish. For a promo show primarily for TV fans in attendance could’ve been forgiven for thinking that was it, but that couldn’t have been further from the case.

Instead the band rattled through a further 27 songs making for a grand total of 38. We have never seen verification on just how long exactly the show went on for time-wise, but it was surely close to if not beyond the 3 hour 30 minute mark.

Over those 27 songs Foo Fighters went from hit to hit, deep cut to deep cut, there was something for everybody.

During the introduction to ‘Up In Arms’ Dave was trying to decide who he would direct the performance towards when his attention was brought to a bearded man in the crowd that bore a passing resemblance to himself. The fan was invited on stage and quickly became acquainted with his doppelgänger.

Jim, or “my bearded girlfriend” as Dave affectionately referred to him shared a beer with the frontman before sitting on stage and being serenaded with the song.

The set continued with tracks such as ‘Stacked Actors’, ‘Breakout’, ‘For All The Cows’, ‘Enough Space’, their cover of Prince’s ‘Darling Nikki’, ‘Wattershed’, ‘I’ll Stick Around’ and even ‘Butterflies’, the only track from the recording session for the first album never officially released. All-in-all, it was quite the mammoth set and everyone that night surely left the small island very happy indeed.

The show was broadcast by Channel V a month later although sadly not the entire show, only a 90 minute cut of highlights. Still, it made for quite a stunning video with the backdrop of Sydney Harbour bridge and of course the great performance of songs.

3. June 24th 2017 – Glastonbury Festival, Pilton, United Kingdom

As we said earlier Foo Fighters are a band that know how to step it on the big stage and the stages don’t come much bigger (at least metaphorically speaking) than Glastonbury Festival. After their cancelled performance in 2015 the band triumphantly returned in 2017 following that special announcement performance we rated at #6 earlier in this list.

When you look at it on paper, the setlist for this show doesn’t look anything out of the ordinary. The show took place before release of ‘Concrete And Gold’ so only one song from the album featured, the single ‘Run’. Only 22 songs were played in total and in comparison to some of the other shows on this list, there wasn’t anything you’d really consider a rarity.

So why did it make this list? Well, because of just how well they performed those 22 songs. The energy was notched up to eleven, the band clearly doing everything they could to impress the huge crowd before them. The crowd also reciprocated, returning the band with equally high energy and enthusiasm.

Dave’s vocals have been notoriously up-and-down in quality the last few years as age (and cigarettes) catches up with him but on this night they were top notch, plenty of screaming and hitting most of the high notes.

In short, you can go elsewhere for the deep cuts and rarities but you’ll be hard pushed to find another show this decade with the ferocity and energy as this special headline slot.

Once again this is another show on the list that was broadcast on TV entirely, allowing fans to re-live it for years to come.

2. July 10th, 2017 – Odeon of Herodes Atticus, Athens, Greece

Just missing out on the top spot is another show we included for a myriad of reasons beyond the setlist. First of all, that venue. As part of the ‘Landmarks Live’ PBS TV series the band were given special permission to perform at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus in Greece, an ancient Roman Amphitheatre on the Acropolis initially constructed in 161 AD and renovated in 1950.

On it’s own the structure is a sight to behold but build a stage, throw a band like Foo Fighters on it and the results were something quite spectacular. The setlist played on the night was a pretty typical mixture of hits and tracks from ‘Concrete And Gold’ including a rare performance of the track ‘Arrows’, so far played on only two other occasions.

‘Dirty Water’, ‘Run’ and ‘Sunday Rain’ were also played for the Greek crowd, which incidently was also their very first taste of the band. Foo Fighters had been scheduled to appear at a music festival in the country in 1996 but cancelled as Dave was injured.

Fans had to wait a while for them to finally play in Greece but what a debut show they were treated to, in such a magnificent venue.

The ‘Landmarks Live’ episode featuring the performance aired across the PBS network in the United States in November 2017 although only select performances were included. The video production looked incredible only adding to the qualities of the performance, the band making the 2000+ year old structure their own for the evening.

We’ve got our fingers crossed that some day this once in a lifetime performance is released in full for us to enjoy.

1. August 26th, 2018 – parking lot of the Hollywood Palladium, Hollywood, CA

Trying to put these ten shows into some sort of logical order was tougher than we imagined, as each show stands out for one reason or another. For the top spot though there really had to be only one choice. It is just about tied with the Studio 606 performance of Wasting Light as the shortest performance on this list but as we all know, size isn’t everything.

The show was initially announced on social media as a pop-up shop for the upcoming CalJam festival with a musical appearance by Taylor’s side project ‘Chevy Metal’ and ‘The Holy Shits’. Any big fan of Foo Fighters knows that as a pseudonym which Foo Fighters have used on several occasions, so they knew what was up.

Outside the Hollywood Palladium a small stage had been erected and first of all Chevy Metal graced the stage. Slowly but surely during the set different members of Foo Fighters joined the original trio on stage until suddenly everyone was there and the show instantly transformed into a Foo Fighters set.

Photo by Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock
Photo by Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock

They kicked things off with ‘White Limo’ and then it just got a little wild. The always energetic ‘Wattershed’ was next followed by a much quicker tempo version of ‘Congregation’. Fourth on the setlist was surely the highlight of the day for many, a very very rare performance of ‘Gimme Stitches’ from the 1999 album ‘There Is Nothing Left To Lose’. The song had only been performed four times previously, the most recent being at a show in Las Vegas in 2008.

At this point it became clear this really wasn’t a typical Foo Fighters performance, this was The Holy Shits. Another track from the debut album was next in the shape of ‘Weenie Beenie’ followed by the criminally underplayed in recent years ‘Low’, from One By One. Taylor Hawkins even noted to Dave that it was his favourite song to play live.

A favourite of fans followed next, ‘Hey, Johnny Park!’, before another cut from the 1995 debut in the shape of ‘Alone + Easy Target’.

Two tracks from The Colour And The Shape rounded out the short set, the standard ‘Everlong’ preceded by the far less common ‘New Way Home’.

The band were on stage for little more than 45 minutes but in that time they played so many songs that fans long to hear in a high energy performance that we just can’t think of anything else that topped it.

Several fans in attendance were running video and we at FooFighterLive put a multi-cam edit together for fans to enjoy the special performance. The below video includes all song performances with just a few seconds of speech missing between some songs.

So that’s it. Those are our top ten Foo Fighters shows between 2010 and 2019. As we said from the outset, we could not include every show in contention because we simply weren’t at every show and there are sadly no recordings of so many. Were there some better shows? No doubt, and do let us know on our social media platforms if you have any other shows you think were worthy of a vote.

This is our final article of 2019 so we would like to thank you for sticking around with throughout this year and we look forward to brining you news and recordings of whatever happens in 2020, the bands 25th anniversary.