For the record, the aches and pains aren’t from hurling myself off the balcony onto the hydraulic lift where Dave Grohl performed his acoustic set. (Though if I were more spry, it could’ve happened.)
We were an assorted bunch in our friend Andy’s company box. Life-long friends, some random cops, two amateur porn stars that one of our friends brought as dates (“We had to come together, we’re a threesome.” OK.), and a couple in their 60s who were all prim, swaddled in sweaters and suede. All prim, that is, until the Foo’s first chord smacked them upside the head. Next thing you knew they were rocking out huge, as if high on bath salts.
Early on, I was certain someone was going overboard, knocked off the balcony by an overenthusiastic hip check or a flailing limb. For a few songs, I bounced around, white knuckled behind the highest glass partition. But soon I was confident I would float off the balcony, and not crash headfirst onto the unassuming Foosters below. Thank you, high spirits.
I’ve always loved the Foo Fighters but the Dave Grohl issues are well documented. The man is pure energy and hotness. The music was loud, the pace frenetic. The show, beginning to end, was an all-out assault on the senses. Grohl used the whole arena as his stage, granting everyone a piece of his intensity. On the big screen, we got some gratuitous close ups of him, head banging and wailing on his guitar and letting loose his trademark throaty growls. We saw Taylor Hawkins beating the living shite out of his drumkit and screaming into his mic. For a while, we ladies in the front row of the box could only stare, transfixed by rock star magic. We were absorbed into the show and were on the inside of the music looking out. It was getting hot and tingly in there.
|James has hair|
Aside: The “Hands Over Head Rule” was created by my brother several years ago as a benchmark of self preservation. It’s typically applied to dancing, but can be applied anywhere when you're out. The moment you raise your hands over your head, it’s time to go home.
In the Herald's early review of the show, the critic wrote something like "It's the 20th anniversary of Nirvana’s 'Nevermind,' but when you see the Foo Fighters live, you can't help but think, 'Nirvana who?' So true. Grohl won’t be remembered as the drummer from Nirvana, but as one of the great rock stars in his own right. In 16 years, he’s more than earned that.
“The fact that he can keep that up is fucking ridiculous.” -- DT on Grohl’s tireless energy. And he never appeared to break a sweat.
The songs: A back-to-back trio of some favorites --- “The Pretender,” “My Hero” (which included the loudest sing-a-long I’ve ever heard), and “Learn to Fly.”
The acoustic set with “Best of You” (raw and awesome) and “Wheels.” I’d entirely forgotten about the song “Wheels.” You never hear it on the radio and the band said they never play it live because the only people who like it are the Germans. That was proved false. The band said if the audience sang the chorus louder than the Germans, they’d promise to play a small dive bar in Boston the next time they're in town. Apparently, we'll see them at Sully's Tap some time in the near future.
Other favorites: “These Days,” which Grohl said was the most favorite song that he’s ever written. “Walk,” which is uplifting and a regular on all of my playlists. A bluesy cover of Tom Petty’s “Breakdown” which was absolutely riveting and even had the random cops on their feet.
I know I’m leaving so much out, there are too many stand outs to mention.
There were some long meandering guitar solos that were a bit much, but the high-energy more than compensated for them.
The band closed the show with the the rocking, frantic "Everlong."
"And I wonder, when I sing along with you
If everything could ever feel this real forever
If anything could ever be this good again."
This left a box full of concert veterans asking the very same questions.
Breaking it Down
Without getting all “Nowadays” and “Get off my Lawn-ish” – I will say Grohl does seem like he’s from another time. You don’t get these types of shows any more. Bands don’t put that much effort into it. To play a three-hour show, including a six-song encore on the final date of a long US tour is unheard of. The last time these sweaty, marathon shows were prevalent was in the 70s and 80s when arena rock was mainstream, before Kiss 108 and country crossovers became king.
Earlier this year, Grohl said, “Just because rock ‘n’ roll isn’t No. 1 in the commercial mainstream doesn’t mean it’s gone. All I know is what rock ’n’ roll means to me. It’s this living, breathing thing that you can see in someone’s eye.”
It’s this passion for his music that was so striking on Wednesday night. (And did I mention he was hot?) While the set list was identical to many other shows on the tour, there was never a sense that the songs were well-worn, never a hint of been-there-done-that.
It’s clear from his energy and enthusiasm that Grohl loves what he does, and it’s clear he wants his audience to share in the love. At one point, he joked: “I hate all this attention. It sucks. Being a rock star is such torture. I just want to go home.”
After more than a year of touring, they could've easily phoned it in and gone home with zero repercussions. But instead, as a three-year-old Paulie once said, the Foo Fighters always "break it down and bring it home."
PU Flashback: Paulie, 3 ½, bringing it home with his best Dave Grohl mugs and moves
Set list, Nov. 16 2011
Learn to Fly
Cold Day in the Sun
Let It Die
This is a Call
In the Flesh?
(Pink Floyd cover)
All My Life
(Dave Grohl acoustic)
Best of You
(Dave Grohl acoustic)
Times Like These
(Dave Grohl solo acoustic into full band)
(Tom Petty cover)