The tribute show for the late Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins at London’s Wembley Arena will be an exorbitant celebration of music from a bygone era.
The memorial show for Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins is going on Saturday evening for about 5 pm, and a sold-out Wembley in London has already had to swallow many tears, with many world stars who address a last word to the deceased. But then there is also that one world star of the outdoor category, announced almost carelessly by master of ceremonies Dave Grohl.
Is that really Paul McCartney? Yes, that really is Paul McCartney. The Beatle also apparently thought it appropriate to say goodbye to the Foo Fighters drummer on a night that, thanks in part to him, is becoming increasingly memorable. McCartney (80), equipped with his Höfner bass, puts the song Oh! Darling in. It’s another shock, because that song from the 1970 Abbey Road album McCartney had never played live before. So there the 80 thousand telephone flashlights of the public go on again, and the football and music temple Wembley turns into a starry sky again.
When the two commemorative shows for Taylor Hawkins were announced in early June, it caused some excitement and surprise. Of course, the drummer, who died in March at the age of 50, was a beloved member of a still well-loved band. But a six-hour show at Wembley and then at the Kia Forum stadium in Los Angeles, with a parade of greats coming to say goodbye, wasn’t that almost too much honour?
The only pop musician to receive such a massive memorial service was Freddie Mercury, also at Wembley in 1992. And that other famous drummer who passed away this year, Charlie Watts of The Rolling Stones, had to make do with some fine words from his remaining band members, who had casually gone on tour again.
The death of Taylor Hawkins, possibly caused by drug use in a hotel in Colombia, touched the music world. Because he was a tight rock drummer, of course, but also because he was a beautiful personality, who played alongside frontman Dave Grohl at Foo Fighters concerts. The two constantly joked with each other, a bit like reporter and finisher. Hawkins often told his own story during those big shows of the American rock band, usually with devastating and fairly long drum solos. In short, he was more than a drummer.
And Saturday evening the greatest greats in music testify to this, sometimes on stage, sometimes in a video message. Drummer Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers says that when his career was booming, Hawkins often bought half drum shops empty. Not for himself, but for young people from the neighborhood, whom he wanted to get on the right drum path. So he was that kind of boy.
Dave Grohl also tirelessly reminisces. ‘He introduced me to records that I would never have discovered otherwise. Grace by Jeff Buckley, for example.’ After which Grohl plays Buckley’s very appropriate Last Goodbye on guitar, with his daughter Violet behind the microphone.
This is how the first part of the tribute show goes: anecdotes are collected, with a smile and a tear. Some family appears left and right on stage, to sing or play along: that is allowed, because it is a farewell ceremony. But mostly there are names that you would never have expected to have had anything to do with Taylor Hawkins. And that succession of rather historic performances not only creates sentiment, but also musical excitement.
For example, singer Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age performs Let’s Dance by David Bowie with Nile Rodgers of Chic. Beautifully sung, and what a cheerful band combination. Guitarist Wolfgang Van Halen secretly commemorates his own deceased father Eddie, with a screeching performance of Van Halen’s Hot for Teacher . Also nice: a rock solid Back in Black from AC/DC with Dave Grohl, vocalist Brian Johnson from AC/DC and drummer Lars Ulrich from Metallica: you will never see that company again in that line-up.
And so the tribute for Hawkins gradually changes into a kind of Live Aid: a dazzling show in the Wembley Arena, with a unique line-up and a sentimental chart.
The commemoration is increasingly taking on the character of a farewell to an era, especially thanks to all those legendary rock acts that pass by: from Rush to The Pretenders and the inevitable Queen. Guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor have the stadium howling at Somebody to Love , with a perfect song by Eurovision jury prize winner Sam Ryder.
The Foo Fighters themselves close the show, tearing the last tears from the stadium when Oliver Shane Hawkins, the late Taylor’s 16-year-old son, sits down behind his father’s drum kit. Dave Grohl can’t take it anymore and sobbs his way through the hit Times Like These . But then Paul McCartney picks up the shards, with a nice rattling rendition of The Beatles’ Helter Skelter . Goosebumps are now raging through the arena.
For example, Wembley says goodbye to perhaps ‘just a drummer’, but the stadium secretly celebrates above all an exorbitant and immodest party for the music, from an almost bygone era.