“It’s going to be a long, long night,” promised Dave Grohl at the start of the Foo Fighters show Monday at the Verdun Auditorium. Promise kept and yet, no one would have wished that this blessed moment of rock, as well say this blessed moment of life, would not end.
“I’m just waiting to be rescued, bring me back to life,” sings Dave Grohl on Rescued, a highlight of the Foo Fighters’ latest album, But Here We Are. Monday night was a bit like the Auditorium de Verdun speaking through the voice of the grunge icon and crying out to be taken back to its old rock life, that of Grohl’s first visit to the south shed. -west of Montreal, in November 1993, when he officiated behind the cymbals for Nirvana.
Bring back to life the Verdun Auditorium, where some of the most important works of metal and alternative rock were written in smoke, sweat and decibels? We were 3763 Monday evening to want to contribute to this resurrection.
“I haven’t been here in a while,” Grohl told the crowd after the third song (Learn to Fly), recalling the Foo’s last visit, in 2003, to the arena where many forties and fifties had also not set foot for a long time, except to accompany their brats on Saturday morning, too early, for hockey practice.
Resurrection. The word may not quite describe the thrust of the Foo Fighters’ current tour, although there is certainly something special about this first tour since the tragic death of drummer Taylor Hawkins in March 2022. ‘a new life. Or, at least, the desire, in each of the survivors, to honor the disappearance of the most spirited of the members of their group by tearing from each of their minutes spent on stage all that they can contain of jubilation and intensity.
Immoderate, Dave Grohl is also a musician with a keen sense of rock history, and he has often spoken in interviews of his admiration for the thrash metal formation of Jonquière Voivod. An admiration he reiterated Monday by calling Voivod “one of his favorite bands of all time” and dedicating a particularly poignant version of My Hero (nothing less) to drummer Michel “Away” Langevin. The eyes of no metalheads remained dry and Michel Langevin, seated in the stands near the stage, had his irresistible smile of an eternal kid on his face. “It’s good to see you, Michel. »
It’s actually everyone who, on stage and in the crowd, had that incredulous smile on their lips of the big occasions. “You’re fuckin’ lucky, it’s going to be sick”, had announced at the beginning of the evening Raphaëlle Chouinard, singer and guitarist of the Shirleys, a Montreal trio which has proven that wonderful things await it, but which still did not seem to be in coming back from being invited by the Foo – drummer Lisandre Bourdages’ banana was visible all the way back.
It was less hot in the Verdun Auditorium than on the evening of the visit of Rage Against the Machine in 1996, the air conditioning now running at full speed. The price of beer was much higher. But it is well known: the ghosts that inhabit a place are first and foremost the manifestation of what our memory wants to project there. And on Monday, at the Verdun Auditorium, 3763 of us believed in this beautiful idea: rock is as much about music as it is about memories and shared moments. The two songs Grohl gifted with his 17-year-old daughter Violet were just one of many proofs of that.
Nobody knows better than the six members of the Foo Fighters how lucky and privileged it is to be on stage every night. Nearly 30 years after its founding, the band now looks like a battalion of rock survivors, with guitarist Chris Shiflett playing in No Use for a Name, bassist Nate Mendel with Sunny Day Real Estate and keyboardist Rami Jaffee with the Wallflowers.
Josh Freese, the rookie behind the drums, has meanwhile played with too many bands (Guns N’ Roses, A Perfect Circle, The Vandals) to list them all, but earned a bit of Whip It during his generous presentation, Devo’s giga tube, another band he was part of. A brief passage of Haven’t Met You Yet would follow, because yes, it’s also Freese who plays the drums on this hit by Michael Bublé.
Come to think of it, the Foo Fighters had perhaps chosen the Verdun Auditorium less out of nostalgia than to remind us that all those we have lost will live on in us as long as we tell their stories, which music lovers of a certain age have all done in recent weeks by regaling their children (more or less consenting) with the story of their most beautiful evenings in the arena where all the greats of deafening music have passed.
“Through the years, I have made many very good friends in Montreal,” Dave Grohl recalled at the end of the race, before singing Aurora, Taylor Hawkins’ favorite song, which he dedicates to her every evening during this tour, and which he also dedicated Monday to his love from another era, the legendary Montreal musician Melissa Auf der Maur.
Monday evening at the Verdun Auditorium, all our friends were present. Even those who are no longer with us.