Lil Nas X and The Foo Fighters Rock The Holidays Via Amazon Music (SHOW REVIEW)

Amazon Music hosted three short concerts as ‘Holiday Plays’ streaming on Amazon Music and their Twitch Channel on Tuesday nights at 8pm Eastern. The first featured Kiana Lede, the second Miley Cyrus, and the third, on December 15th, presented Lil Nas X hosting The Foo Fighters, with even more overt holiday decorations and themes. While they were all fun, light-hearted events running around 30 minutes in length, the free shows also packed a surprisingly musical punch, particularly the final Foo Fighters show.

Of course, part of the reason for the concert series, if not the whole reason, is to promote subscription the Amazon Music service and spread the world about it, but the concerts were open to the public rather than just to those who subscribe and are still available for viewing (see link above). Part of the Amazon Music tie-in was obvious during the Foo Fighters concert when banners at the bottom of the screen explained song titles and where you could find these titles on Amazon Music. It wasn’t much of a distraction, though, and the performance easily eclipsed the ads.

The Foo Fighters show also had a pleasant holiday feel and did usher in the Christmas season well, with Lil Nas X in rather outstanding costume and makeup to look like an incarnation of Father Christmas, or perhaps something more pagan relating to Yule, with frosty contact lenses, lush clothing, and backdrops to complement the theme. At one point, he even rode around in a sleigh-like golf cart stacked with presents spreading cheer.

During a video feature called “Lil Nas X’s Grotto”, Lil Nas X read out questions for Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins from fans asking for presents that were fairly heart-warming and laced with humor. Someone asked for a set of drum sticks, which Hawkins kindly provided. Asked what he would bring to a birthday party, Grohl emphatically answered, “BBQ”.

One fan’s question centered on having read Dave Grohl’s short stories, and they asked what his favorite Christmas fables or traditions are. Grohl explained that he grew up in Virginia outside of Washington, DC, and how sometimes they’d get a white Christmas. His favorite story was imagining Santa landing on the roof, and he’d look for reindeer tracks afterwards. Taylor Hawkins added that he likes the whole “leaving the cookies out for Santa” thing. 

The Foo Fighters’ set was broken up by a couple of these video segments but was a very focused and on-point performance, bringing a lot of rock energy as well as holiday fun. They started off with longtime favorite “Times Like These”, which created a subtle, quieter intro to the set, introducing some very positive themes of “a new day rising” and suggesting personal determination to move toward better times. By the end of the song, full Rock ‘n Roll lighting had been introduced, showing off the rather gorgeous old venue decked out for a wintry theme complete with icy backdrops and fake snow. “Learn to Fly”, another of the band’s biggest hits, continued the upbeat, defiant theme and suggested rising energy for the set. 

Less expected, but no less interesting, was their move to play the newer song “Shame Shame” off their upcoming 2021 album, Medicine at Midnight. The single was released in November and the band played the song to great effect on Saturday Night Live shortly thereafter. It’s a complex song, musically, and emotionally, which introduces Gospel and Soul-style backup singers and a kind of internal monologue that could easily be taken to speak to our times. It could read as a discussion of an unhealthy relationship, but it equally could represent depression and the way we hold ourselves down in life. The whole song does suggest that Foo Fighters are still experimenting with their output to stay dynamic and change with the times. 

The Foo Fighters circled back to play “Best of You”, another fan favorite and a really appropriate choice at this part in the set because it leads to such a Hard Rock crescendo. With a very big metal sound and drum build-up, including a solo, the virtual show channeled an in-person live performance. Tied in with the big build-up, the special effects people started blowing fake snow through red spotlights, adding to the amusing mayhem. The show closed out on a high note with a very emphatic performance of the Chuck Berry classic, “Run Rudolph Run”, which was presented without a trace of irony by a seemingly very enthusiastic band determined to bring some positive holiday vibes to those watching at home. The song has also now been released as a single by The Foo Fighters on Amazon Music. 

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