Foo Fighters brings glorious stadium-sized rock to the Rare Club Show

“Well, that’s nice, this picturesque, said Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl and welcomed the audience Thursday night at the House of Blues in Cleveland, Ohio. He hid his mane behind both ears like a professor adjusting his reading glasses. It’s been a while since Grohl, 52, could recognize faces from the stage, as he mostly performs for thousands in football stadiums.

“How the hell did everyone get tickets to this?” Grohl joked. “I’m just assuming a good internet connection?”

The spectacular one-off show marked the beginning of the Rock Hall weekend. On Saturday, a Beatle will induct all six members – Grohl, guitarists Chris Shiflett and Pat Smear, keyboardist Rami Jaffee, bassist Nate Mendel and drummer Taylor Hawkins – into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The Foos legitimately seems to psyche over the distinction. And the gravity of their year of induction, which was the first ceremony after two years of pain and destruction, was not lost on them.

“RIP Charlie” was scribbled on Hawkins’ drum kit in the heart of the stage. Longtime fans (who were pretty much all 1,200 of us) knew the band was mourning the loss of their manager, Andy Pollard. The reverent tone entered the first three songs and formed a kind of hard rock sermon, starting with the heartbreaking song “Aurora” from 1999 – without a doubt Grohl’s most evocative songwriting – then to 2002’s irreversible “All My Life” to the exhilarating gust of wind from “Learn to fly.”

Foo Fighters

Credit: Danny Clinch

Then the show took off. “I’m fucking born in Ohio,” Grohl roared as cheers and fists gripped the air. “I have some roots in this damn thing.”

They ran through songs like “The Sky Is A Neighborhood,” “My Hero” and “Walk,” making room for lots of cliffhanger drum blasts and guitar attacks. It all felt more visceral when you can actually see the veins springing out on either side of Grohl’s neck chokes.

For alIn sheer intensity, the other big highlight was that no one was particularly shy about launching a full-blown solo midway through which song they were making or letting a riff meander into a longer jam. Drummer Taylor Hawkins – Iggy-est Foo – who sat on top of his hot-pink drum kit, all white teeth and blond hair blowing everywhere, gave “Hero” a percussive facelift. Grohl would often just stop to marvel at this zen-surfing animal hammering away like a machine. “No one has worked harder,” Grohl said of Hawkins, followed by, and then asked him to do another solo. “Take it, Carole King!”

Even though The famous concert photographer, Danny Clinch, ventured on stage for a rolling harmonica solo during “The Pretender”.

Surprisingly, some of the most feverish blues improvisations took place during the new songs (such as the blue-labeled “No Son of Mine”) from their recently released 10th album, Medicine at midnight. One could feel that it was a new song as they trooped out the trio of backup singers (one of whom was Grohl’s teenage daughter, Violet).

Hard rock was balanced with disco fever. Grohl decided there was “too much rock” when he cracked his chewing gum (has he chewed gum all along?) And brought the backup singers back to tonight’s DeeGees moment, a cover of the Bee Gees’ “You Should Be”. Dancin, “which has been a regular feature of the set list this year.

Hawkins and Grohl also swapped places for Hawkins’ euphoric rendition of Queen’s “Somebody to Love,” which was particularly appropriate given that Foos inducted Queen into the Hall of Fame in 2001.

Foo Fighters

Credit: Danny Clinch

Hawkins turned around to see Grohl give a drum solo as he crawled by the lip of the stage. He later introduced Grohl, who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame for the second time since originally joining Nirvana in 2014.

“I do not know when the third will come, but I know it is,” Hawkins said. “Is there a Hall of Fame book?” (Someone in the crowd replied, “The Pulitzer Prize?”)

Since its inception, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has been controversial and filled for musicians. As more 90s bands become eligible to enter the hall, there has been no shortage of pettiness and rage, right from the time Trent Reznor said he “could not give less of a shit” about Nine Inch Nails has been snubbed over the years to Axl Rose’s 1,000 words “open letter” defending his right to does not be recorded, until Radiohead completely abstained from the ceremony (though none of them hold a candle to the Grateful Dead in 1994, which arrived on the scene with a cardboard cut by Jerry Garcia boycotting the event.)

There is nothing wrong with Foo Fighters. And after the last two hell years, thank goodness. Who is better than Grohl and Co.? to provide some much needed rock and roll catharsis. In Cleveland and everywhere else.

“We’ll be back,” Grohl said at the end of the show with his left eyebrow raised. “But the next time you see us, we’ll be 100 yards away at a big stadium that is likely to open for the Chili Peppers.”

Foo Fighters

Credit: Danny Clinch

Foo Fighters House of Blues set list:

“All my life”
“Learn to fly”
“No my son”
“The sky is a quarter”
“Shame shame”
“My hero”
“You Should Be Dancin ‘” (BeeGees cover)
“Somebody to Love” (Queen cover)
“Times like these”
“Young Man Blues” (Mose Allison cover)
“Best of you”

The post Foo Fighters Bring Glorious, Stadium-Size Rock for the Rare Club Show first appeared on SPIN.

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