By Jacqueline Grima
Established in 2006 by front man and Dave Grohl lookalike, Jay Apperley, Foo Fighters tribute band, the UK Foo Fighters, brought the final gig of their ‘Sonic Motorways’ Tour to Academy 3 in Manchester on Saturday 13th December, following on from the success of their first full ‘Hiatus’ tour last year.
Opening the show with White Limo, the song he was lucky enough to recently perform with the real Foo Fighters at one of their gigs in Brighton, Jay immediately showed his audience why his band have risen to such popularity by successfully recreating the instantly-recognisable Dave Grohl scream. Next, came Arlandria and Rope, both from the Foos’ Wasting Light album, the first real highlight of the evening coming with the band’s almost perfect rendition of one of the Foos’ most well-liked numbers, Pretender, the mixed-age and initially-subdued audience, many of whom hadn’t seen the UK Foos before, at that point, really starting to come alive.
After that, came a mixture of old and new, hits like Learn to Fly and My Hero being played alongside In the Clear and Something from Nothing from the Foos’ new album, Sonic Highways. The crowd, by now very much infected by Jay’s enthusiasm and obvious passion for the music he plays, are now singing along and dancing to every track as much as if they were at a real Foo concert, a mosh pit of shirtless young (and some not so young) men opening up in the center of the room as Jay, obviously loving every minute, somehow recreates that famous Grohl swagger without, at any point, losing his own identity as a fantastic performer and showman in his own right. His introduction of his band, however – Jamie Valentine on lead guitar, Aaron Warner on bass, newcomer Nick Wight on keyboards and the ever-enthusiastic Alex Bailey on drums and lead vocals for Cold Day in the Sun – proved Jay’s appreciation of the fact that he hasn’t come this far alone.
After saying his first round of goodbyes before coming back with an acoustic rendition of Wheels followed by firm favourites Walk, One of These Days and Best of You, Jay at one point seems overwhelmed, the audience singing back to him as he informs us that this is ‘like Wembley’ for him and, in this moment, it is very clear that to the man who, in previous gigs, has admitted that even he wasn’t sure about tribute bands, the support for him and the other members of the band from their fans genuinely means a great deal. Indeed, immediately after the gig, Jay jumps straight into the crowd for hand shakes and photographs.
Tribute bands are not for everyone, many fans of popular bands often dismissing them as ‘wannabes’. For fans of the Foo Fighters, however, whose opportunities to see their favourite band can be few and far between and who might appreciate spending an evening singing and dancing to some of their favourite songs, I would highly recommend they check out the UK Foo Fighters when they return for the dates apparently already booked for next year.
Jacqueline is due to start her MA in Creative Writing at MMU in January after gaining a first in Literature at the Open University. Her unpublished novel Coming Second was recently shortlisted for the Luke Bitmead Bursary. Follow Jacqueline on Twitter @GrimaJgrima