OK, I admit it. Dave Grohl is brilliant, although he’s too modest to say so. He went from drummer in one of the planet’s biggest bands, to guitarist and creative force behind a phenomenally successful power pop group. Tommy Lee tried it and failed, but Grohl has done a masterful job for himself and his quaint four piece outfit. Catchy songs, hilariously artistic videos, and surprisingly impassioned live performances make Grohl and his Foo Fighters a formidable act on today’s music scene.
On 2 July, Grohl and troupe played the first of two gigs at New York’s stately old theater, the Hammerstein Ballroom. Although this was their inaugural visit to the venue, it doesn’t much matter where the Foos play, as they pack the house and indulge in a blistering set everywhere they go. Their reputation for putting on raucous shows is eagerly anticipated by fans whenever they stop by for a visit. So what were the faithful treated to this hot summer night? Read on
2 Jul 2003: Hammerstein Ballroom New York
After a solid forty minute opening set by Pete Yorn, the Foos hit the stage at precisely 9:45pm. From the first chord it was a rollicking good time, as Grohl led the way through seventy five minutes of Foo favorites. On the strength of the group’s video catalog, most of the fifteen song set list instantly called to mind their video versions on heavy MTV rotation. Not to say that the material doesn’t hold up on its own, it certainly does. But Grohl’s songs resonate even louder as they are forever linked with their filmed counterparts.
The disarming goofiness that Grohl exhibits in interviews and on stage banter sessions belies his passion as a musician. A ceaseless dervish of energy on stage, he led his mates through each song with ferocity and commitment. From the driving “All My Life” to the imploring “My Hero” to the campy fun of “Monkey Wrench”, not a bit of energy was wasted. Obviously the Foos’ efforts have not gone unnoticed or unappreciated, as the SRO crowd never stopped bouncing for a moment. True to their billing, the Foos do indeed kick ass live.
Now going into their eighth year, the Foo Fighters are seasoned veterans of studio and stage. It was interesting to hear them close their set with “This Is A Call”, as this was the group’s first break out song. Back in 1995 when Grohl formed the band, the bulk of the material came from his supply of home recordings he’d been toiling over for years. Now 1995 seems like a distant era altogether, yet the Foos’ sound remains as energetic and fun as it did back then. With Grohl at the helm, it would seem that the Foo Fighters can rule the land as long as they choose to do so. The funny thing is, in another few years many of the group’s fans won’t even know that Grohl was in Nirvana. That may be prove to be inconsequential if the Foos continue to tour and record with the enthusiasm they currently exhibit.
While the word “great” is liberally used in far too many contexts these days, I’ll go out on a limb here. Grohl and his Foo Fighters may not have reached the pinnacle of greatest just yet, but they’re damn close, and as good as we’ve got. No Foo-lin’.
// Notes from the Road
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