On Saturday, September 3, the Foo Fighters held the first of two shows in tribute to their late drummer Taylor Hawkins. Streamed live by MTV and Paramount+ with an abridged special airing on MTV, the star-studded event at London, UK’s Wembley Stadium brought together friends, family, fans and mentors to pay homage to Hawkins and raise money for Music Support and MusiCares. On hand to man the drums in Hawkins’ stead were Nandi Bushell, Lars Ulrich, Travis Barker, Josh Freese, Stewart Copeland and Rufus Taylor, among others. Also among the frey lending their voices and instruments in tribute were AC/DC’s Brian Johnson, The Darkness’ Justin Hawkins, Queens Of The Stone Age’s Josh Homme, Oasis’ Liam Gallagher, Pretenders, Supergrass and more.
Hawkins passed away on March 25, 2022 after suffering chest pains prior to a festival appearance in Colombia. He was 50 years old.
While there were many noteworthy moments from the six-hour show, here are five of the top performances that stand out.
05) Paul McCartney: This tribute was full of surprises, not the least of which was an unannounced appearance by Paul McCartney, who joined the Foo Fighters for two songs. The former Beatle treated the audience to the debut live performance of ‘Abbey Road’ cut “Oh, Darling” with Pretenders frontwoman Chrissie Hynde joining him for a duet. His second song, “Helter Skelter,” was full of hard rock energy and vigor.
04) Rush: This really could have been any of the countless classic rock performances of the night. After all, Brian Johnson and Lars Ulrich performing “Back In Black” together is pretty awesome and Wolfgang Van Halen shredding to his late father’s music was chilling. However, a rare performance from Rush’s Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson was both an amazing tribute for Hawkins and for their own drummer, Neil Peart, who passed away in 2020 from cancer. This was only the second time Lee and Lifeson performed together since Peart’s passing. Dave Grohl rocked it behind the drums (naturally) while Lee’s and Lifeson’s bass and guitar swirled in a cacophony of sound.
03) Queen: There were so many incredible performances, but Queen’s medley of hits was an epic piece that bears mentioning. The Struts frontman Luke Spiller and The Darkness frontman Justin Hawkins (no relation) did a fantastic job singing the band’s classic tracks, but it was viral sensation Sam Ryder that stole the set. The British singer and Eurovision 2022 runner-up, who more than slightly resembles the late Hawkins, tore down Wembley Stadium with his performance of “Somebody To Love.” Considering Hawkins was known to perform the track during Foo Fighters shows, it was like going back in time.
02) Dave Grohl Gets Emotional: Being a tribute to the band’s fallen drummer, Saturday was due to be an emotional night from the start. When Grohl and the band came on stage to perform “Times Like These,” the weight of the night overtook the frontman and he almost broke down singing the chorus. The moment brought perspective to a show full of big performers and performances. Similarly, Grohl’s solo acoustic performance of “Everlong” was the perfect, low key, respectful way to end the night and pay tribute to his friend.
01) Shane Hawkins: The absolute highlight of the show came at the end when Taylor Hawkins’ son Shane took the kit for a moving rendition of “My Hero.” His performance was impeccable, a fitting tribute to a father who was truly his idol. The look on Dave Grohl’s face said it all as he watched Shane emphatically nail a drum solo in a way reminiscent of Taylor.
The Foo Fighters will be doing this all over again on September 27 when the band and guests take the stage at the Kia Forum in Los Angeles, CA.