As a quick disclaimer, I’ve seen the Foo Fighters over 15 times that range from small clubs, to festivals, to Wembley Stadium. For years (unsuccessfully), I’ve been trying to initiate an interview with Grohl via their PR firm. One of the key questions I’ve always wanted to ask him, “How come you’ve never gone all out on the stage production like your heroes Queen and AC/DC?” For anyone that has seen the Foo Fighters the last two decades, it’s almost guaranteed they start their performance walking out on stage with essentially a backdrop curtain.
Their music without a doubt does all the talking as it’s rare that a band that plays so loud and screams so much sounds exactly live as they do on their albums. However, having seen Guns N Roses, Motley Crue, Prince, Alice Cooper, and Metallica in recent years, there is something to be said about having an amazing stage and light show to go along with your gig.
I was at the Anthem’s grand opening in Washington, DC, last Thursday, which was the official first night of the Foo’s Concrete & Gold tour. And just like all the previous shows, there was a curtain back drop, they walked out, and they rocked the house for 2.5 hours.
When I saw the Foo were playing a few nights later in Columbia, SC, I couldn’t help but make the drive. I FRICKIN LOVE seeing live bands in small arenas. But something was different tonight. There was a large diamond video board hovering over the stage. A massive back wall of lights. Hmm. I was standing about twenty people back from the stage when a curtain wall dropped down around the stage and the lights went out. Whaaa???
The Foo Fighters started playing “Run” behind the wall, which naturally built up a high adrenaline rush waiting for that curtain to drop as the song’s intensity got louder. When Run hit its’ first peak guitars…EXPLOSION.
Twenty four songs and two and half hours later, it was clear that this was the best Foo Fighters show I had even been to. The full set list is available here, but here are the highlights for me:
- Sunday Rain – Taylor Hawkins’ drum solo began and his drum kit stage elevated 30+ feet in the air. He then led into the lone song on the new album he sings, “Sunday Rain.” Grohl was side stage smoking a cigarette taking in Hawkins’ amazing solo. At one point in the show Grohl asked the crowd, “What do you think of our lasers (looking at elevated drum kit smirking) and our fuckin Motl…? (cuts himself off from saying Motley Crue). This is new for us. We’ve never had anything like this on our tours.” The crowd let him know it was awesome.
- My Hero – Grohl intro’d this song telling the story of his ‘Ed Sullivan moment,’ which of course is a reference to the Beatles’ appearance on the show waking up so many people to a new Rock N’ Roll. Grohl (and I’m paraphrasing), “I remember one time back in Virginia growing up the baby sitter was over and we were watching Saturday Night Live and the B52s were the musical performers. I just remember watching them and having this moment…’Holy crap, they are weird and awesome, which means I can be my weird self. So, I dedicate this song to Cindy [Wilson], wherever she is.” (and she was actually back stage)
- Hovering video board – The diamond video board that rotates above and behind the band drops down to basically a ten foot ceiling for three songs. This light show (to me) basically means they can rotate and play any three songs during this part of the show. It definitely made me nervous seeing the lights and board swaying with the cables above them because God forbid what happened to Curtis Mayfield happen to the Foo.
- Excuse Note to Boss – In one of Grohl’s chattier, in-between song moments, he asked if people were going to skip work tomorrow. Then he asked everyone to pull out their phones so he could dictate a get out of work note. “I’m very sorry but your employee won’t be able to make it to work tomorrow because they spent too much time having fun with the Foo Fighters last night. Next tell your boss to fuck off, start a band, and go on tour because that’s what I did!!”
- Fan Gets to Play Drums – A University of South Carolina sophomore, Pierce Edge, was in the front row holding up a sign all night asking if he could play Queen’s “Under Pressure” on drums. Half way through the show Grohl looked at him and said, “Maybe.” During the encore he pulled him up on stage and some serious magic happened. See video. The kid’s on stage selfie pics are absolutely legendary as well (see end of article).
- Encore Shenanigans – Grohl has never been one for encores, always preferring to play straight though, but during the break he and Taylor Hawkins were egging on the crowd over the big screen from back stage how many songs the encore should be. The crowd eventually went from a “one more” chant, to a “two more” chant, to a “three more” chant where they ran back on stage.
- Columbia, SC – In a rather humorous moment, Grohl asked the crowd when was the last time he was here and then he quickly realized that in his twenty two years of touring he had never played Columbia, SC, before. “Really?!? My bad!!!”
- Accordion solo – Keyboardist, Rami Jaffee, is tucked away next to the drums and is often a butt of Grohl’s jokes, but his accordion solo during Skin and Bones was incredible and fit in well.
Do not miss seeing them if you ever get the chance. How good are the Foo Fighters? I’m trying my best to plan a New Zealand vacation when they are out there in February 2018 with Weezer.
Here are the pics from the fan drummer’s IG. If he can get these blown up and autographed, man…he’ll have the best home wall art ever.