Taylor Hawkins’ sudden death last year was a truly tragic moment in Foo Fighters’ 28 year history. For the second time, Dave Grohl was left to mourn a larger-than-life bandmate, and in this case a best friend too.
Hawkins’ positive personality shone a huge ray of sunshine over the band and delivered some of their finest moments, whether that was fronting Queen’s Tie Your Mother Down with Brian May and Roger Taylor at Hyde Park in 2006, or singing Led Zeppelin’s Rock And Roll with Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones at Wembley in 2008.
So when he was cruelly taken away in Bogotá, Colombia in March 2022, Foo Fighters were well within their rights to call it a day there and then, such was the pain and loss of a truly vital member of the band. But just as he did after the tragic death of Kurt Cobain in 1994, Grohl bravely soldiered on, honouring Hawkins with two guest-heavy tribute shows in London and LA, and at the end of last year eventually confirming that the band would go on without him.
With But Here We Are, Grohl spends the bulk of Foo Fighters’ eleventh studio album battling to come to terms with Taylor’s death. Opener Rescued comes roaring out of the blocks as a stunned Grohl screams: ‘It came in a flash, it came out of nowhere/It happened so fast, and then it was over’, before hopelessly admitting: ‘I’m just waiting to be rescued, bring me back to life’.
This is followed by the brilliant Under You, a song which sees the Foos revert back to the raw emotive sonics that painted The Colour And The Shape belter Monkey Wrench. It also delivers one of the most gut-punching lines on the album as Grohl pictures ‘sharing songs and cigarettes’ with his late bandmate before adding: ‘This is how I’ll always picture you.’.
Elsewhere, the frenetic title track is on a par with stadium slaying anthems like Best Of You and Times Like These as rousing guitars give way to thunderous drums while Grohl goes full-throated on the vocal front. The Teacher, meanwhile, sees him laying bare his darkest moments as he tries to come to terms with the fact that he’s been shown ‘how to breathe’ but never ‘how to say goodbye’. He then, finally, reluctantly accepts Hawkins’s passing, on soothing closer Rest.
As albums go, But Here We Are might be the Foos’ most cathartic, but it’s also one of their best, and a fitting tribute to the late, great Taylor Hawkins.