Dave Grohl looks ready. Ready to run, ready to rock and, well, ready to get soaked.
"We want a long f***ing night, are you guys cool with that?" Go on, then, Dave. Might as well - sure, we've been here all day and the mud is already up to our elbows. "I'm gonna keep you warm!" Cheers, Dave.
Are we all set to discuss the man's fabulous flannel shirt? Oh yes. Now, this guy looks like a rock star. Just how in the hell did Seattle-formed Foo Fighters, purveyors of cartoonish, afternoon-radio alt-rock, go on to become the biggest band in the world, eh? Granted, it took them 20 years to make the climb, but their ascent from post-grunge warriors to bona-fide rock royalty has been nothing if not extraordinary, the Foos' distorted, melodically-entwined super tunes only improving as the years progressed.
Eight albums in, and Foo Fighters are now at the top of an iconic bill. Weather-wise, it's a lousy day at the castle, but hey, at least our favourite frontman is happy. Dave assures us he's going to give everything he's got. He keeps his promise. That's the thing about rock-star runways - they allow you to get the job done in style. For a while there, a chatty and generous Dave Grohl (46) even turns off the rain. Man of many talents, for sure.
"This is a big f***ing Foo Fighters show!" he declares, legging it about the shop. "I think the band's got too big!" Cue a break-up joke. That's not funny, dude - especially seeing as how Foo Fighters are at the peak of their creative powers, turning in a sharp, often genius set that, though brimming with various outbursts of so-called spontaneity (acoustic sing-songs in the rain, deadly covers of Thin Lizzy's Jailbreak and Queen's Under Pressure) stands among the tightest, most meticulously-crafted Slane performances we've ever seen.
The career-spanning setlist is perfect, hitting hard with greatest hits (Everlong, Learn to Fly), surprise picks (a tender cut of Big Me) and tasty riffs (The Pretender, All My Life, My Hero). Guitarist Pat Smear may just be the happiest man alive up there. The blistering, beach-ready drummer Taylor Hawkins is the closest thing we've seen to Animal (the Muppet). He and Dave (one of the hardest-working, most commanding rock showmen in the world) make for an outstanding team.
These boys aren't just in sync - they may as well be working from the same brain. It's an awesome display of rock 'n' roll camaraderie and expertise, courtesy of America's most entertaining band. Oh, and our favourite line of the night? Has to be Dave's new name for the best support act on the bill: "Hozier Daddy!" A triumph. HHHHI
> CHRIS WASSER