Foo Fighters in Birmingham review - Dave Grohl's 'super surprises' made Villa Park history

Foo Fighters at Villa Park Stadium
-Credit: (Image: Kirsty Bosley)

As a rainbow stretched across Villa Park Stadium tonight (Thursday, June 27), Dave Grohl addressed the Brummie crowd. "What is this, Hawaii?!" he yelled. "Birmingham is the most beautiful city in this entire country! I feel like I'm on vacation!"

The noise from the crowd was deafening as Foo Fighters fans raised their voices by way of thanks for the compliment. There's something really earnest about this frontman and tonight in Aston, the comment about our city was no empty remark designed to provoke a reaction.

I'm sure of it because Brummies were treated to some super surprises. Not only did we get to see a band that somehow sound even better in the flesh than they do on record, who exude the raw energy and skillful musicianship that made an £80 gig ticket feel like a bargain, but we also got a Villa Park first.

Read more: Foo Fighters Villa Park live as Dave Grohl calls Birmingham 'most beautiful city in this country'

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But I'll get to that. Let me rewind to the opening acts.

Hot Milk came out early and rattled the teeth out of my noggin, hollering a statement of intent that's frankly too rude to publish here on a family news website. Screams and melodies from two vocalists gave them gravitas and dual guitars added extra weight for those heavier songs.

Pop punk bounces didn't quite get the crowd moving but, it was early days and beers are £8 a pop once you factor in the £2 glass levy. Give us time.

Courtney Barnett was an interesting choice for that second support slot. After all of the upstart energy that Hot Milk brought to the table, the tone was distinctly more relaxed and, in parts, a little bit dull. But perhaps I just couldn't hear the clever lyrics she's so known for over the sound system.

By the time Foo Fighters came out kicking and screaming with All My Life, everything else fell by the wayside anyway. It was an explosive start to a 25-song set that would take us, fantastically, along the great timeline of this band's life.

One of my favourite things in all of music is hysteria. You know how Paul McCartney used to get sometimes, when the mood took him? A little bit animalistic in a brilliant way? In Birmingham, Dave Grohl had a lot of that going on and I loved it.

The Pretender proved to be a special moment for the audience as they sang along with the Foos at the top of their lungs. They've sung it in cars, in countless showers and cathartic moments of exaltation since 2007 and in unison, you could surely hear it from town.

In fact, they cracked the sky by the time the band struck up Times Like These and rain fell. Showers continued for the old favourite Generator and the best version of Hysterical Dave came out for La Dee Da which was an unexpected highlight for me.

We saw drummer Josh Freese doing the absolute most for Breakout and the audience gave him a really warm reception. He has big shoes to fill following the loss of Taylor Hawkins and he did so with skill and humility. It was wicked to see.

My Hero brought people around me to tears and I enjoyed watching the two blokes next to me were overcome with joy in the moment and embraced. Live music is the best, and this is a band that is made to be heard in the flesh.

The highlights kept coming. A big dancealong for Learn to Fly was a peak and These Days opened up little circular craters in the vast crowd as people turned to their pals and danced in each other's arms.

The first of the real surprises came shortly after as Dave introduced the legendary Geezer Butler to the Villa Park Stadium stage for the first time ever to perform Paranoid just a few roads away from the Black Sabbath musician's childhood home. Dave did say that they liked to push the boat out to celebrate the last dates of tour and nothing could have been better for the Brummies than that.

The band got a bit of a break as Dave launched into a three song acoustic run but I was glad once we got back up and running with Monkey Wrench. A touching version of 'Taylor Hawkins' favourite Foo Fighters song', Aurora, gave fans the chance to reflect before Best Of You took us to the false finish.

The return for the encore might have provoked the most noise I've ever heard for any band, ever. The Teacher got the crowd going again and we were absolutely chuffed to welcome Shane Hawkins to the stage to play This Is A Call. What an incredible talent.

The show ended with a really stunning version of Everlong and the crowd didn't miss a beat or a word as they let it all go up into the Aston sky. It was clear we were having a great time, but just as obvious that the Foo Fighters were loving the experience too. They couldn't keep the smiles from their faces as they sent us home on a high.

A wonderful night, an excellent band, a brilliant crowd and a fantastic setlist. Villa Park Stadium doesn't do gigs all that often but when it does, they never seem to miss the target.

Cheers, Foo Fighters. Come back soon!