A ‘tribute band’ is defined in the dictionary as being a “musical group that imitates or performs material made popular by a famous predecessor”, and British Foo Fighters tribute band, the UK Foo Fighters, certainly imitated Dave and Co with gusto.
Whilst the nearby streets were swarming with drunken men and women in drag – owing to the Rocky Horror Show being performed at the Theatre Royal on the same evening – the UK Foos performed a similarly raucous show in the Rock City Basement last Saturday night (September 28).
From the moment the doors opened, the theme of the evening was set as a selection of better and lesser-known songs from the Foo Fighters’ back catalogue, such as ‘F.F.L’ and ‘Fraternity’, played out over the PA system. Not only that, but the stage set-up also made it feel like a real Foos show; a large ‘FF’ logo backdrop and a Gibson DG-335 – Dave Grohl’s own custom guitar model – sat on the stage waiting for the night to begin.
Having seen the Foo Fighters twice in the last two years, the element of the show that was highest on my anticipation agenda was the setlist. Would the UK Foos imitate the actual Foos by starting with the chaotic ‘White Limo’ (as per the Foos’ most recent shows), or would they opt for a more classic approach, starting with something a little slower? Perhaps unsurprisingly, the band chose the former, thrashing out ‘White Limo’ with all the ageless vigour of Dave and the boys.
By the middle of second song ‘All My Life’ – a traditional Foo favourite – a mosh pit had already opened up. It isn’t very often that you see such a wild reaction in a crowd at a tribute band gig, but on this occasion, it was completely justified – the UK Foo Fighters were already beginning to sound like a close, almost carbon copy of the Foo’s themselves.
All of the hits were included in the set, from ‘The Pretender’ and ‘Times Like These’, to ‘Rope’ and ‘Everlong’. We were even treated to some less popular hits such as ‘Enough Space’ and ‘Hey Johnny Park!’ Not only that, but the UK Foo Fighters even took the time to nail the universally-loved, extended live outros on songs such as ‘Rope’ and ‘My Hero’ – just as the US Foos do whilst they are on tour. Heck, drummer Alex ‘Taylor Hawkins’ Bailey even sung ‘Cold Day in the Sun’ from the comfort of his drum-kit; just like the real Tayhawk does during shows!
The vocals proved difficult to imitate perfectly; unsurprisingly and forgivingly so when considering that real frontman Dave Grohl has one of the most unique voices in rock music today. However frontman Jay Apperley did a superb job of getting pretty damn close. Instrumentally, and as a unit, the UK Foo Fighters are phenomenal. Every single riff, melody and note that the Foos have recorded throughout their longitudinal discography was played in exactly the way that they were supposed to – no mean feat for a self-taught tribute band.
Physically, the band did not look exactly like the real Foo Fighters but – and this isn’t an exaggeration – they made up for it with their styling and on-stage personas. Jay and Alex were the spitting image of Dave and Taylor respectively, from their clothes all the way down to minute details such as their facial hair choice. Jay in particular was the perfect imitation of his idol Dave, as he not only had his look down to a tee but also his notable characteristics, such as his behind-hair grins, deep crowd stares and even Grohl’s trademark sway. At times, it was like watching Grohl himself. In fact, the only thing that Jay didn’t imitate was Dave’s love of drinking beer whilst performing, instead opting for a sensible bottle of Oasis during the show. That said he did succumb for two brief moments, drinking some of the UK Foo’s personal ale Monkey Wrench, aptly named after the memorable Foos single.
The UK Foo Fighters announced the Hiatus Tour initially to fill the Foo Fighters’ shaped hole left in every fan’s heart, after the real Foo’s announced their well-deserved hiatus following the Wasting Light era. Although Dave, Taylor, Nate, Chris and Pat put a small spanner in the works after recently announcing that they were off hiatus and back in the studio, Jay and the boys still filled a very painful void excellently following a year without any Foo Fighters live shows.
The wonderful thing about the UK Foo Fighters is that they have an overwhelming passion for not only the Foo Fighters, but for also bringing Foo Fighters fans together. Much like the Foo’s, they are a very humble group that appreciate people paying money to see their shows. Despite only performing to a 250-strong (yet practically sold-out) crowd, frontman Jay declared: “This is Wembley for me”. It was a touching moment, and one that really endeared the band to the punters present.
As tribute bands go, the UK Foo Fighters are one of, if not the best tribute band on the circuit today. So if you’re in dire need of a Foo-fix, take this as a guarantee that Jay and co will offer a fix-fulfilling show.
If you have a couple more minutes to spare, why not check out the past week’s other content?
- Feature: Harry’s September Music Highlights
- The Monday Playlist: Time to Get Motivated!
- Live Review: Fleetwood Mac @ London O2 Arena, 24/09/2013