Taylor’s spirit came alive when Shane stepped up to the drum kit.
The 16-year-old’s floppy hair and his slightly nervous energy gave away the fact that this was a teenager about to play drums for the Foo Fighters in front of a sold-out Wembley stadium. But as soon as he played the first beat of “My Hero,” Shane Hawkins channeled the spirit of his late-father, Taylor Hawkins. They both sat at the kit the same way, they both gritted their teeth the same way when they played, they both had the same mischievous smile when, mid-song, they looked at their bandmate Dave Grohl.
If you hadn’t yet teared up with joy and sentimentality during this incredible event, you did now.
The Taylor Hawkins tribute concert in London on Saturday Sept. 3 might be the best curated rock concert ever performed. If you watched all six hours, you saw members of some of the most legendary rock bands of all time pay tribute and remember their friend Taylor by doing the thing they do best—play incredible music. Members of AC/DC, Rush, Queens of the Stone Age, The Police, Queen, The Pretenders, Rufus Taylor (son of Roger Taylor), Wolfgang Van Halen, Paul McCartney, Liam Gallagher, Lars Ulrich, Joe Walsh, Nile Rodgers, The Darkness’ Justin Hawkins, Kesha, and more came together to pay tribute to their friend Taylor, who passed away in March.
Then, after possibly the most impressive collection of rock stars ever played their hits, you saw Taylor’s band, the Foo Fighters, put on one of the most powerful, emotional, and meaningful performances they’ve ever given.
Taylor Hawkins radiated a pure joy for music. In a tribute video to Taylor before the Foo Fighters’ performance, you saw clips of the drummer playing and talking about music like a giddy teenager. You saw the love he had for his bandmates—and the love they had for him. Then when Dave Grohl came out, the band leader honored his friend the only way he knew how. The band’s first song was “Times Like These” and as Grohl walked to the mic you could see the tears already glistening in his eyes. He made it through the first few lyrics. But when he reached “it’s times like these, you give and give again,” Grohl broke down. He cried for his lost friend and bandmate and showed the emotions that every Foo Fighters fan felt when they first heard that Taylor had passed.
It took a few moments for Grohl to continue. But with the crowd and the spirit of Taylor willing him on, he pushed through his sorrow to find the power, joy, and energy that the Foo Fighters are known for. And once Grohl screamed “Alright motherf*****s, let’s go right now!” the headliners transformed from a band sorrowfully remembering their fallen friend to rock stars celebrating the life of a fellow musical legend.
The band played their biggest hits and featured a string of guest drummers including Travis Barker and Rufus Taylor. But the last drummer they played with was the most special.
Shane Hawkins blew Wembley away. You can see how much the band loves Shane in the way they joyfully played with him. The Foo Fighters playing “My Hero” with Taylor’s son was the perfect way to end one of the most legendary concerts ever put on. It was a cathartic release for the band and everyone watching.
This concert had its sad moments, but it truly was a celebration, and nothing showed that more than Shane’s performance. It says something when the most powerful moment of concert of this magnitude is the image of Dave Grohl proudly looking back at Shane as the teen took his drum solo and—if only for a few seconds—led his dad’s band. Grohl’s smile reflected everyone’s relief that even though Taylor Hawkins is gone, his spirit lives on and his music continues to bring us so much joy.