Taylor Hawkins Tribute Concert in L.A. Was an Emotional & Joyous Peak into His Musical Mind

Review by Max Stewart

There are overwhelming moments in life that can take years to fully process. Some of them can be tragic, joyous, or in some cases, a little bit of both. For me, a longtime fan of the Foo Fighters, the tribute concert in Los Angeles was most certainly a lifetime of musical memories stuffed into a six hour marathon show. Sure, I was prepped from watching the London show that there would be a non-stop, revolving cast of musicians throughout the night. But no amount of YouTube clips could have prepared me for the magical performances and emotional moments that transpired in person at the Kia Forum in Los Angeles on September 27, 2022.

I detailed the impact that Hawkins had on my life a few months after he tragically passed away, and it was so powerful to be surrounded by thousands of fans from all over the world who clearly felt the same way. Flying in from Atlanta, I had to make the most of my trip by fully immersing myself in all things rock ‘n’ roll in a way that I know fellow rock nerd Taylor Hawkins would have appreciated. My wife and I stayed at the legendary rock hotel Sunset Marquis the night before the show, and I was completely blown away when I say poolside mere feet away from Roger Waters and then ate breakfast in the tables next to John Paul Jones and Carlos Santana. As we were checking out to head to the show on Tuesday, I also ran into Widespread Panic drummer Duane Trucks (who lives very close to me in Georgia) who was also heading to the show. I spoke to a few fans at the hotel who had already purchased some merch at the Forum parking lot the day before and chatted with a few ohers walking down Sunset Boulevard proudly repping their Chevy Metal or Foo Fighters shirts.

Taylor continues to bring fans and musicians together, and I am certain that his spirit will continue to do so for years to come.

Heading into the show, my main question was how long until the tears started rolling. For me, it didn’t take long. Just after Dave Grohl‘s daughter Violet Grohl sang “Hallelujah” alongside Alain Johannes, the band all came out to say a few words, mentioning that the night was going to be a look into “Taylor’s musical mind… which could be a scary place!” They then introduced Joan Jett, who spoke highly of her memories of Taylor while it was clear Grohl was fighting back tears in the background. At that point, queue the waterfalls. It felt good to get it out early. But once the riff for “Cherry Bomb” hit, we were all off to the races for an epic rock ‘n’ roll send off.

As I have sat with this for a few weeks trying to reel in all of the incredible music I witnessed, I decided that instead of just a full list of all who played being run through sequentially (we do have the full setlist at the end of article), I thought it might be better to give some personal highlights with some clips to give a little perspective. The entire night was a highlight of epic proportions, but I have detailed a few that have stuck with me below, someone who has been a massive fan of Hawkins and the Foo Fighters since 1999.

  • Obviously at the top of the list, Taylor’s son Shane Hawkins playing “My Hero” and “I’ll Stick Around” with the Foo Fighters. Shane really is an inspiration, having the strength to perform in not one but two tribute shows to honor his late father at the age of 15. And not just phoning it in, but truly leaving it all on the stage. It is absolutely surreal seeing him perform with the Foo Fighters: owning it and moving behind the kit in a way that is so strikingly similar to his dad. Millions saw him rip “My Hero” with the band in London in the clips that went viral, but it was a welcomed surprise to see him also do “I’ll Stick Around” with the band too. So powerful and so damn cool.
  • Wolfgang Van Halen simultaneously honoring Taylor and his dad, Eddie Van Halen. Wolfgang truly left jaws on the floor in absolutely nailing the guitar parts for “Panama” and “Hot For Teacher,” with Grohl on bass, Josh Freese on drums, and Justin Hawkins on vocals. Taylor frequently wore the signature EVH print boardshorts on stage and was a huge Van Halen fan, so the tunes were a perfect tribute to both Taylor and Eddie. Eddie Van Halen also hailed from nearby Pasadena, CA, and it was touching seeing his son part of such a badass rock tribute so close to home.
  • The Holy Triumvirate of Drummers Alongside Rush:
    • Tool‘s Danny Carey, Red Hot Chili PeppersChad Smith and Nirvana‘s Dave Grohl (I know we all know.. but it feels meaningful to see it in writing) playing with Geddy Lee and Alex Liefson of Rush on “2112: Overture” (Grohl), “Working Man” (Smith), and “YYZ” (Carey). Phew, I just started sweating while typing this out. Oh yeah, longtime Foo pal Jack Black introduced Rush while remembering some fond memories of Taylor.
  • The James Gang reuniting, with Grohl on drums for “Funk #49.” Taylor seemed to always wear a hat with The James Gang logo, as Grohl pointed out, so it was really meaningful for Joe Walsh to join alongside his old bandmates and Grohl for a few tunes (they also played “Walk Away” and “Bomber”). Walsh and Taylor became close friends as well, something that clearly became a theme of the night for everyone. Everyone gravitated to the Hawk.
  • Mark King singing “Something About You” with The Coattail Riders:
    • This one personally really blew me away. I remember getting a ‘Pure 80s’ compilation CD when I was 11 and gravitating most to this Level 42 track, “Something About You.” It was hard for me to revel in the excitement for the song as I was growing up in a world where my peers were obsessed with MTV boy bands and nu-metal. Finding out that Taylor loved this song and witnessing the singer Mark King perform it alongside the Coattail Riders was another moment that affirmed my connection to Taylor and the imprint he will always have on this world.
  • Taylor’s wife Alison Hawkins coming to the stage with their daughters and her raising her arms to the heavens. This was moments before Brian May performed “Love of My Life”, a song that was played at their wedding. The most touching and memorable moment of the night that will stay with me forever.
  • Josh Homme leading the crowd in a cheer for Taylor in unison as Them Crooked Vultures reunited to perform the Queens of the Stone Age tune “Long Lost Goodbye,” as well as “Dead End Friends” and Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.”
  • Foo Fighters performing the deep cut “Low” with Soundgarden/Pearl Jam drummer, Matt Cameron. Cameron was always one of Taylor and Dave’s favorites, with Cameron’s face placed on a few of Taylor’s bass drums. Dave joked that the drum arrangement was a rip off of Soundgarden’s “Jesus Christ Pose.” As one who obsessed over this tune in my younger years, I geeked out seeing the band play such a rarity with Cameron.
  • Stewart Copeland, Jon Davison (Yes) and the Foo Fighters performing The Police’s “Every Little Thing She Does is Magic.” Taylor and Davison were super close friends, and he played throughout the night including on this tune. Having Taylor’s drum idol Copeland slay behind the kit on this and “Next to You” really made you wish so bad Taylor could have seen the epic nature of the night.
  • Matt Cameron and Kim Thayil of Soundgarden playing alongside Nirvana‘s Krist Novoselic on bass and Taylor Momsen on vocals. Hearing “Black Hole Sun” and “The Day I Tried to Live” (the same song Taylor sang at the Chris Cornell tribute at the L.A. Forum a few years ago) brought insta-chills to the room.
  • Alanis Morissette came to the stage just for one song, “You Oughta Know.” Taylor was part of Morissette’s band in the Nineties, so it was great to see her involved. Taylor’s good friend and bassist Chris Chaney, also part of the Morissette band and a member of Jane’s Addiction and NHC, was a vital addition to the wide ranging list of musicians.
  • Rufus Taylor, son of Queen’s Roger Taylor, absolutely blowing minds at the kit on “Best of You,” with Grohl pointing to the Hawk flying high during the crowd-sung breakdown of the song, “Best of You.”
  • One of Taylor’s best friends Chad Smith closing out the evening with the Foo Fighters for “Everlong”. This was at the end of the six hour musical marathon, with the room of fans and musicians delirious from all of the adrenaline and emotion. This song truly felt cathartic.

There were so many truly poignant and thrashing rock ‘n’ roll memories made in honor of Taylor Hawkins. The range of emotions was intense, but it was the ultimate lift off to the heavens for the Hawk.

Full Setlist (9/27/22, Los Angeles, CA):

“Hallelujah” – Violet Grohl & Alain Johannes

“Cherry Bomb” – Joan Jett with Travis Barker and Foo Fighters

“Bad Reputation” – Joan Jett with Travis Barker and Foo Fighters

“Riff Raff” – Chevy Metal

“Owner Of A Lonely Heart” – Chevy Metal with Juano “Jon” Davison (vocals)

“Heroes” – Chevy Metal with Kesha (vocals)

“Range Rover Bitch” – The Coattail Riders with Justin Hawkins (vocals)

“It’s Over” – The Coattail Riders with Justin Hawkins (vocals)

“Something About You” – The Coattail Riders with Mark King (vocals) of Level 42

“I Believe In A Thing Called Love” – The Coattail Riders with Justin Hawkins (vocals)

“Walk Away” – James Gang with Dave Grohl

“Bomber” – James Gang with Dave Grohl

“Funk #49” – James Gang with Dave Grohl (drums)

“Right Down The Line” – Mark Ronson, Andrew Wyatt, Tommy Brenneck, Dave Grohl, Chris Chaney, Roger Manning

“Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” – Them Crooked Vultures (Josh Homme, John Paul Jones, Dave Grohl with Alain Johannes & Greg Kurstin)

“Long Slow Goodbye” – Them Crooked Vultures (Josh Homme, John Paul Jones, Dave Grohl with Alain Johannes & Greg Kurstin)

“Dead End Friend” – Them Crooked Vultures (Josh Homme, John Paul Jones, Dave Grohl with Alain Johannes & Greg Kurstin)

“Panama” – Wolfgang Van Halen, Josh Freese, Justin Hawkins, Dave Grohl

“Hot For Teacher” – Wolfgang Van Halen, Josh Freese, Justin Hawkins, Dave Grohl

“Rock Of Ages” – Def Leppard, Foo Fighters

“Photograph” – Def Leppard with Miley Cyrus, Foo Fighters

“Live Wire” – Mötley Crüe, Foo Fighters with Derek Day

“Home Sweet Home” – Mötley Crüe, Foo Fighers with Derek Day

“Shake It Up” – Elliot Easton, Dave Grohl, Josh Homme

“Just What I Needed” – Elliot Easton, Dave Grohl, Josh Homme

“Barracuda” – Nancy Wilson, P!nk, Jon Theodore, Foo Fighters

“Next To You” – Stewart Copeland, Foo Fighters, Juano “Jon” Davison

“Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” – Stewart Copeland, Foo Fighters, Juano Davison

“You Oughta Know” – Alanis Morissette, Chad Smith, Chris Chaney, Foo Fighters

“Supernaut” – Black Sabbath – Lars Ulrich, Geezer Butler, Sebastian Bach, Foo Fighters

“Paranoid” – Black Sabbath – Lars Ulrich, Geezer Butler, Sebastian Bach, Foo Fighters

“2112: Overture” – Rush with Dave Grohl (drums)

“Working Man” – Rush with Chad Smith (drums)

“YYZ” – Rush with Danny Carey (drums)

“The Day I Tried To Live” – Soundgarden with Taylor Momsen, Krist Novoselic, Pat Smear, Dave Grohl

“Black Hole Sun” – Soundgarden with Taylor Momsen, Krist Novoselic, Pat Smear, Dave Grohl

“We Will Rock You” – Brian May, Roger Taylor, Rufus Taylor, Justin Hawkins, Foo Fighters

“I’m In Love With My Car” – Brian May, Rufus Taylor, Roger Taylor, Foo Fighters

“Under Pressure” – Brian May, Roger Taylor, Foo Fighters, Justin Hawkins (vocals)

“Somebody To Love” – Brian May, P!NK, Roger Taylor, Foo Fighters

“Love Of My Life” – Brian May

“All My Life” – Foo Fighters with Josh Freese

“The Pretender” – Foo Fighters with P!NK, Jon Theodore

“Walk” – Foo Fighters with Travis Barker (Blink 182)

“Low” – Foo Fighters with Matt Cameron (Soundgarden, Pearl Jam)

“This Is A Call” – Foo Fighters with Brad Wilk (Rage Against the Machine)

“Sky Is A Neighborhood” – Foo Fighters with Patrick Wilson (Weezer)

“Run” – Foo Fighters with Omar Hakim

“Creep” – Foo Fighters with Dave Chapelle

“Best Of You” – Foo Fighters with Rufus Taylor

“My Hero” – Foo Fighters with Shane Hawkins

“I’ll Stick Around” – Foo Fighters with Shane Hawkins

“Everlong” – Dave Grohl with Chad Smith

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