On Saturday (September 3), the first Taylor Hawkins tribute concert took place at London’s Wembley Stadium, with a formidable lineup of musicians joining forces to celebrate and commemorate the life of the late Foo Fighters drummer, who passed away earlier this year.
With the help of Dave Grohl – who took up position behind the kit in place of the late Neil Peart – the trio first performed 2112 Part I: Overture and Working Man, fan footage of which can be found below.
In both instances, Grohl does a stellar job of faithfully delivering Peart’s parts, while Lifeson and Lee spend the duration of both tracks going blow-for-blow by way of some classically high octane exchanges and a smattering of expertly executed guitar solos.
Lee and Lifeson’s inclusion on the bill was apt, owing to the close personal and musical relationship they shared with Hawkins. In 2008, at the request of Foo Fighters’ management, the pair attended one of the band’s shows in Toronto so that Hawkins could play one of his favorite Rush songs live.
That particular gig was, as Lee said during the tribute concert, “The beginning of a beautiful friendship.”
Grohl had echoed these sentiments when he welcomed Lee and Lifeson on to the stage, labeling Rush as the “one band that I always associated Taylor Hawkins with”.
“Taylor got up and played with two guys once, in their hometown of Toronto, Canada,” he told the crowd (transcribed by Louder). “And I have to say, it was not only one of the greatest nights of my life watching him do that, but perhaps, one of the greatest nights of his."
The song that Hawkins played all those years ago with his heroes was YYZ – lifted from 1981’s Moving Pictures – with which Lee and Lifeson appropriately and touchingly ended their set with the help of former David Bowie drummer Omar Hakim.
“For Alex and I, it's a privilege to be up here and play with SuperDave,” said Lee on the night. “In 2008, as Dave told you, we got a call from Foos' management, asking if we'd come to the Toronto show, and show up so that Taylor could play one of his favorite Rush songs with us. We obliged, and that was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”
In 2014, Hawkins spoke to Prog magazine about his YYZ performance, recalling, “You can imagine how nervous I was. But I got through YYZ with them. Even though they told me I was playing too fast! The nerves I was going through; here I was replacing Neil Peart in Rush – well, almost!”
Lifeson and Lee were joined on the concert's 50-song setlist by a huge array of special guests, including Liam Gallagher, Josh Homme, Chrissie Hynde, Nile Rodgers, Lars Ulrich, Chris Chaney, Travis Barker, Shane Hawkins, Brian May, Krist Novoselic and many, many more.
Wolfgang Van Halen was also on the bill, and took to the stage to perform two Van Halen classics: On Fire and Hot For Teacher.
A second Taylor Hawkins tribute concert is set to take place on September 27 at the Kia Forum in Los Angeles. For more information about the upcoming event, visit Foo Fighters' website.