Who would’ve known that Dave Grohl—a guy who was really there for the reign 90’s grunge, who at 25 had already climbed the highest of rock music heights—would still be performing rock shows today? Who would’ve known Grohl would outlast most of his contemporaries? Most of his successors? In the year following Kurt Cobain’s death, Dave Grohl wrote and recorded every instrument and vocal part of what would turn out to be the first Foo Fighters record. The album, which arrived the Summer of ’95, begins with Dave’s strained yet sincere voice singing “This Is A Call”, an earnest rock ballad which would set the tone for many Foo Fighters songs to come.
In creating the Foo Fighters, Grohl made something immortal. He placed something among the stars. He forgave Kurt. He lived. Now here we are, over two decades, many Glastonbury sets, Wembley Stadium performances, and music documentaries later. Dave Grohl still addresses crowds early on with a timeless provocation: “Do you love rock and roll?“ He takes chances on audience members boasting their shredding skills, like this “Kiss Guy” who tore up Grohl’s guitar for “Monkey Wrench”. And before slamming back Coors Lights, he excuses himself, saying “Pardon me while I drink my rock medicine.”
When the Foo Fighters take the stage on any given night, they only sort of know what’s going to happen. Grohl will map out each night’s mega-length set to include songs across their discography, in addition to a range of covers. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Foo Fighters guitarist Chris Shiflett, said Dave’s “maps” are only good for about the first two hours. “Things change on a dime,” Shiflett said. “When we get into that final third, Dave will start cutting, adding and rearranging songs, or he’ll do stuff in a different order. You have to stay in the moment the whole time.”
The Foo Fighters North American leg of their “Concrete and Gold” tour kicked off last week and has already been met with rave reviews. With set lists that change on a dime, and the definitely not staged appearances of talented fans shredding along with the band, Foo Fighters have unknowingly encapsulated a rare rock concert experience, one that dates back before the creation of Nirvana.
But the Foo Fighters—arguably still in their prime—don’t see themselves as relics of a time past, and they shouldn’t. But one has to wonder if Dave Grohl and Co. feel alone in their mission to bring audiences the best rock experience possible, one that approximates the energy which first lit the fire beneath Dave Grohl as a kid growing up in the D.C punk-rock scene.
Of the Top 30 songs on Billboard’s Hot 100, there are only two songs that even come close to the rock genre, Jason Aldean’s “You Make It Easy” and Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect”. We’re in a very different time from when Dave Grohl was growing up watching Duran Duran, Billy Idol, Heart, and The Bangles on MTV.
Now, the “rock” genre includes artists such as Florence + the Machine, Imagine Dragons, and Portugal. the Man. But among these artists, very few embody the same rock and roll energy integral to Foo Fighters concerts. Portugal. The Man uses the same, perfectly timed video reel for every concert, purposefully eliminating the opportunity for improvisation. Female rockers Haim and Florence + the Machine have delivered beautiful covers of their rock ancestors, but none have quite generated that sensation, that raucousness, of being at a rock concert and feeling that anything can happen.
Foo Fighters continue to shake things up every new album. They’ve been touring in support of Concrete and Gold for close to a year, and recently refined the new material once again. “In the past few months, we’ve brought in some backup singers for the songs on the record that have a lot of layered harmony vocal parts. We’ve never really done anything like that before, and it sounds really good,” Shiflett explained to Rolling Stone.
It’s hard to believe the Foo Fighters are still in their prime, but as Dave Grohl continues to improve his voice and role as frontman, the band insists on not only giving audience’s their moneys worth, but on putting on the best rock show—and perhaps last—of its kind. Check out a sample Foo Fighters set list below, and scroll down for Foo Fighters tickets as they continue sell out their “Concrete and Gold” North American Tour.
Foo Fighters Set List
All My Life
Learn to Fly
The Sky is a Neighborhood
Under My Wheels (Alice Cooper cover)
Another One Bites the Dust (Queen cover)
Imagine/YYZ/Jump mashup (John Lennon/Rush/Van Halen covers)
Blitzkrieg Bop (Ramones cover)
Under Pressure (Queen cover)
Times Like These
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