From the first note, it was clear that the Los Angeles Taylor Hawkins Tribute Concert would be different from its British counterpart.
Rather than opening the evening with a speech in front of the crowd, as Dave Grohl had done in London, he gave the spotlight to his daughter Violet. The young singer was joined by Alain Johannes to perform Leonard Cohen’s classic “Hallelujah”. While London had several subdued and heartbreaking moments along these lines, it turned out to be the most poignant part of the Los Angeles spectacle. Instead, the tone of the concert was more like a strong, punchy wake.
“This show compared to the London show, that fuckin’ shit rocks a little louder,” Grohl noted about halfway through the night’s performances. He was right – and here are 15 ways he did it.
Joan sings her heart out (black)
Serious, heartfelt and moving, Joan Jett’s opening set at the second Taylor Hawkins Tribute Concert set the tone for the rest of the evening. The Rock & Roll Hall of Famer is often tough as nails (because she is), but here Jett allowed herself to be vulnerable, opening up about her friendship with Hawkins. While fighting back tears, she called the drummer “such a beautiful person” and admitted she was “honored to have him as a fan of mine”. “We’ll be a supergroup when I’m there with you,” Jett said, before launching into Foo Fighters-backed renditions of “Cherry Bomb” and “Bad Reputation,” featuring Travis Barker on drums.
Justin Hawkins: underrated star
The Darkness is best known for “I Believe in a Thing Called Love”, a 2003 single that became a worldwide hit. And while the group has enjoyed continued success overseas, the song remains their hallmark in the United States. It’s a shame that American audiences haven’t embraced the band and their dynamic frontman more. First in London, then again in Los Angeles, Justin Hawkins has proven himself to be a powerhouse on stage. Boasting a wide range and charisma to spare, the singer was a constant force in LA
Kesha accidentally flashes the crowd
Pop star Kesha was one of many women who took center stage on Tuesday night. Dressed in a revealing disco ball-like ensemble, the singer joined Hawkins’ famed cover band Chevy Metal for a rendition of the David Bowie classic “Heroes.” Kesha did the classic song justice, but an unexpected part of her passionate performance was that her outfit couldn’t hold up. Still, she wouldn’t let a little wardrobe malfunction slow her down, even if it showed the audience more than she’d liked. “Taylor would have loved my boobs to fall out,” Kesha said, laughing at the incident.
Is there any other group that could bring together so many artists, spanning both broad genres and eras? Classic stars, modern hitmakers and up-and-coming artists – all were present at the Forum. The Foo Fighters — especially Grohl and Hawkins — have long made it a habit to celebrate and often befriend their musical heroes. At the same time, they have served as mentors to young groups that have risen to prominence over the past 25 years. This appeal could also be seen in the crowd, with demographics ranging from teenagers to people in their 60s. Over their quarter-century career, the Foos have firmly cemented their place as the bridge between classic rock and modern acts. The lineup in Los Angeles reflected this, as the material played at the show spanned six decades of rock. No other act could bring together such an intergenerational collection of acts.
Wolfgang Van Halen breaks his own rule
Over a year ago, Wolfgang Van Halen tweeted “I’m not gonna play ‘Panama’ for you guys” – a reference to the insistent requests he gets to perform classic Van Halen songs. Some rules are made to be broken. On Tuesday night, Van Halen was joined by Dave Grohl, drummer Josh Freese and vocalist Justin Hawkins for an incendiary rendition of “Panama.” The crowd ate every second of the performance, especially when Van Halen showed he could shred like his old man. To be clear, Wolfgang Van Halen has certainly earned his success as a solo star, scoring a radio hit song and even receiving a Grammy nomination (he lost to the Foo Fighters). He has little to prove and there is no reason for him to perform Van Halen songs. It’s just wild when he does.
Josh Homme, the chameleon
Josh Homme showed off his lineup at Tuesday’s tribute concert, passing through material from a variety of different artists. He performed songs from his bands Queens of the Stone Age and Them Crooked Vultures, but he also delivered a cover of Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” and later sang along to a pair of Cars classics, “Shake It Up” and “Just What I Needed,” alongside that band’s Elliot Easton. Through all the varied material, Homme was as engaging and powerful as ever – a reminder of what makes him such a leader. magnetic.
Keep them wanting more
With so many incredible acts but barely six hours of work, the successes came quickly and the changes even faster. The small gap between the performers meant that the show ran at a steady pace. The sets were short, with most acts giving two or three songs. Foo Fighters had the longest performance, with an 11-song final set (Queen came in second with a five-song set). On the other end of the spectrum, Nancy Wilson only performed one song, but it was memorable. The Heart guitarist ripped a rendition of “Barracuda” with special guest Pink.
Similar to Wilson, Alanis Morissette’s appearance was brief but hugely memorable. This singer came out unannounced, taking the stage as drummer Chad Smith began playing the familiar beat of “You Oughta Know.” Hawkins was Morissette’s drummer during the Little shredded pill tour, and it was clear that his death still hung over the singer. Morissette channeled those emotions into a gripping performance, pacing the stage as she sang her 1995 hit.
Bach, Butler and Ulrich
When you meet a dynamic singer like Sebastian Bach facing metal legends like Geezer Butler and Lars Ulrich, good things are bound to happen. The trio – joined by Foo Fighters – blazed through Black Sabbath classics “Supernaut” and “Paranoid”. The former Skid Row singer shook his head back and forth as he sang. Meanwhile, Butler and Ulrich provided the beats for the songs, adding a dose of metal to the night’s festivities. “Los Angeles, are you ready to kick some ass?” Bach shouted at the start of the performance. With that kind of power, the crowd had no choice.
It takes three drummers to replace Neil Peart
Neil Peart remains one of the most revered drummers in rock history. Hawkins was a devoted fan, proclaiming the Rush drummer “had the hands of god” shortly after Peart’s death in 2020. Taking a place behind Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson was never going to be an easy task, so rather than to entrust the responsibility to one man, it was entrusted to three. Grohl joined the surviving members of Rush for “2112: Overture” while Smith slipped behind the kit for “Working Man.” The third and final song from the set was given to Tool’s Danny Carey, who was more than up for the challenge by performing “YYZ”.
Whatever you want to name the combination of Grohl, Krist Novoselic, Pat Smear, Kim Thayil and Matt Cameron, it was pretty impressive. This assemblage of grunge royalty, made up of members of Nirvana and Soundgarden, had every fan in the crowd ready to dig up their old flannel shirts. But it was singer Taylor Momsen of the Pretty Reckless who stole the show. Going from sullen to explosive, the singer attacked “The Day I Tried to Live” and “Black Hole Sun” with the kind of perfect ferocity that would have made Chris Cornell proud.
There is no queen who stops
Returning performers from the London show, Brian May and Roger Taylor were even better the second time around. The Queen’s Legends delivered the same five songs they performed in London, but there seemed to be a bolder edge this time around. ‘We Will Rock You’ – with Justin Hawkins on vocals – rocked the arena with her might, while May delivered a poignant moment before performing ‘Love of My Life’, noting that the song was performed at the request of ‘Alison Hawkins, Taylor’s widow. Still, the undisputed highlight of the set was “Somebody to Love,” with Pink joining Queen on vocals in one of the night’s most electrifying performances.
If you notice a theme, it’s that the women brought their A-game. Pink was one of the night’s MVPs, owning the stage every time she stepped out. Likewise, Miley Cyrus was a revelation alongside Def Leppard, propelling the hard-rock veterans through their breakthrough hit “Photograph.” Meanwhile, Jett, Kesha, Momsen, Morissette and Wilson provided some of the concert’s best moments. Even though some of these artists are more associated with pop than rock, they have each shown they can fit into a range of any the greatest acts of the genre.
Predictably, emotions were running high among the performers. Several had to take a moment to hold back their tears as they paid their respects to their late friend. Grohl choked up numerous times while talking about Hawkins, as did Jett, Smith and others. Each artist channeled their respective emotions into their performances. Perhaps the best example of this came from Rufus Taylor, son of Queen’s Roger Taylor and drummer of The Darkness, who counted Hawkins as a friend and mentor. Rufus Taylor joined Foo Fighters at the end of the show for a performance of the band’s 2005 hit “Best of You”. Beating like he was a man possessed, Taylor delivered incredible drum fill and hammered out beats with fury and precision. At the end of this captivating moment, the drummer momentarily slumped in his chair, a mixture of emotion and exhaustion seemingly bringing him to a halt. After a breath to collect herself, Taylor wiped away a few tears, centered herself, and closed the song to rapturous applause.
The London gig ended with Grohl soloing, delivering a heartbreaking version of The Foo Fighters’ “Everlong.” In Los Angeles, the song closed the show again, but it was a very different version. After six hours of music and with the clock set to 1 a.m., Grohl and bandmates Foo ripped through an energetic rendition of the 1997 song, kicking things up to 11 a.m. one last time. The performance felt cathartic for the band, a final burst of energy to end a long and emotional night. It was a powerful way to end things, with the thousands still in attendance giving the band a standing ovation as they were joined by the other performers for a final salute.
Taylor Hawkins Los Angeles Tribute Show Photos
Rock’s biggest stars pay tribute to the late Foo Fighters drummer.
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