If it’s any indication of his musical influences, Dave Grohl’s dream is coming true. He’s finally playing with Led Zeppelin. At least that’s what it felt like last night at the Allstate Arena, just outside Chicago in Rosemont, IL. Only instead of a dusty stage act, Chicagoans were treated to an epic, sweeping performance by the Foo Fighters.
Under a thick blanket of fantastic stage lighting and behind a mess of hair, Grohl was in complete form, chewing gum and smiling like a drunken college Freshman. “You guys remember that show we did a few years back with Weezer,” he asked the crowd. “Well that show sucked cock compared to what we’ve got for you tonight.” It’s crude, it’s elementary, but it’s everything one needs at a balls to the wall, rock show.
After having opened with new songs “Let It Die” and “The Pretender”, the band pummeled straight into hits, “Times Like These”, “Breakout” and “Learn to Fly.” However, this is a band in new form. Older songs sound different, if not louder. For songs off Echoes, Silence, Patience, and Grace, the familiar quartet (Chris Shiflett, Nate Mendel, Taylor Hawkins, and Grohl) were accompanied by old flame and guitarist Pat Smear (of The Germs fame) and a slew of other backing musicians, playing organ or violin.
The real show began with the extended performances of “This is a Call” and “Stacked Actors.” Originally a simple pop song, “This is a Call” found a new face in stripped down bar rock and blues. Grohl entertained the audience with scatter brained solos, catwalking the bridge stage that went out into the audience on the floor, while Shiflett yanked enough metal out for the Serj Tankian (who opened) fans wanting a heavier dose. The usual live spectacle “Stacked Actors” only gets better with time, having now turned into a crude homage to Zeppelin’s “Moby Dick”, thanks to Hawkins impeccable drumming. After all, he does have a sick mentor (Stewart Copeland).
Something strange happened. The band disappeared after an eight-punch hit. To pass the time, drunken fans and drugged out nutbars swayed back and forth. Then rather softly, the beginning chords of “Skin & Bones” emanated throughout the snow packed, sold out arena. Above the swirling flesh of fans below, a smaller, middle stage came down and within seconds the band kicked right into gear.
Working on a small, circular stage, the loud mouthed rockers put on their best manners and churned out another number of favorites (a sing along rendition of “My Hero”), including a rare, reawakened performance of the past Nirvana b-side, “Marigold.” Grohl, switching mic’s to face each side of the arena, introduced what he labeled as his “Grammy-nominated rock band” and following a stale rendition of “But Honestly”, he was left alone to complete the acoustic medley with the ever popular, “Everlong.”
As if the retooled, crowd involving “Monkeywrench” or the song-of-the-night “All My Life” wasn’t enough, the audience demanded more. Within minutes, the stage screens turned back on, scanning over the night’s set list, which stopped right where the encore would be. Grohl, silent and in night vision, beckoned the crowd by holding up one finger, then two, and three. When it switched over to Hawkins, he was stretching out both hands, mouthing “How about ten?”, and the crowd just ate it up.
“Nooo. What the fuck,” Grohl’s voice came back. “We’re not doing that. If we were doing thirty songs, we’d have a fucking intermission.”
The crowd was deafening, stomping feet, screaming for more, and calling out to Grohl. For three hours, he was their best friend. “Here’s some trivia for you,” he continued. “I saw my first rock show here at the Cubby Bear. It was Naked Raygun.” There was some applause at this, but after he chatted it up, the act ended with a sentimental duet (with touring member Jessy Greene) of “Big Me”, a fast relay through “Long Road to Ruin”, and the now fitting closer, “Best of You.”
If anything, it’s interesting to see the evolution of the band. While once a quiet, scraggly haired, grunge drummer, Grohl has become thee arena rocker of the new millennium. It’s not an act to see, nor even a rock show, it’s a fucking event. Excuse the language, he kind of rubs off.
Check out if the Foo are playing near you.