In June 2008, Dave Grohl and the rest of Foo Fighters played two sold-out shows on a rotating stage at Wembley Stadium in London. At the very end, as fireworks lit up the skies above the stadium (which holds approximately 90,000 bodies), Grohl stopped and covered his eyes with his hands. He appeared to be crying — a fitting end to the biggest Foo Fighters show ever.
This past Friday night, at Sprint Center, a near capacity crowd got to feel firsthand a similarly powerful presence and emotion. Grohl and various lineups of his band have been performing for 16 years. To say that they put on "quite a show” is an understatement. It was close to two hours and 45 minutes of unadulterated arena rock dished out by a frontman who lovingly fed off the crowd's energy and adoration.
I use such lofty language because Grohl and the Foo Fighters made a believer of me. My initial reaction was a sign and an eye roll to Grohl's comment, “This is going to be the longest show ever because we don't shut the fuck up.” (I was rather testy after sitting through Rise Against.) But after he warned the crowd that he was preparing to scream as loud as he could into his mic, I knew he was serious about delivering a memorable performance. It was only the second date on the tour, which will end in mid-December after shows in Australia and New Zealand. We were getting the Foos at the top.
The set list was filled with old favorites from 1999’s There Is Nothing Left to Lose
, 2007’s Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace
, 2002’s One by One
— all Grammy-winning efforts — and the Foo’s latest release, Wasting Light
. Like the stage setup at Wembley, a long catwalk extended out into the floor, cutting through GA and ending with another square stage that could be raised so that Grohl could give love to those on the other end of the Sprint Center. “For the next few songs, you don’t have to have the shitty seats anymore,” he announced to those in the upper levels.
After two hours, Grohl announced that he just wasn’t ready to go home yet. Neither was his band. Drummer Taylor Hawkins (whose last gig was as Alanis Morissette’s touring drummer) never faltered, and guitarist Pat Smear swayed and smiled, looking like a lovable, stoney Frankenstein. But it was definitely Grohl’s show. There is no doubt that he is singularly in charge of the five-piece band, as evidenced in the documentary Back and Forth
, released earlier this year.
The final song before the encore, “All My Life,” has been referred to as the band’s favorite to perform, and a turning point at any concert. The Foos picked the right moment to drop it and retreat backstage, leaving the crowd begging and cheering for more. The beginning of the encore was delivered from the ancillary stage. Grohl began “Times Like These” with an acoustic guitar, a single spotlight shining upon his sweaty, black-clad figure. Halfway through, the band kicked in and brought it home. It was, simply put, inspiring. Grohl and his band made us feel good. We felt worthy, loved and cool, despite the ridiculous spectacle going on across Grand that can taint a Kansas City concert experience. Grohl clapped for us. When does that ever happen?
Note: I missed the whole outside impromptu performance of “Hot Buns”
because I was inside watching Mariachi El Bronx. Despite spotty sound, they were pretty awesome. Others I overheard were confused [“Why are these guys playing this show?”] or simply uninterested. They seemed genuinely excited to be playing in such a huge place, but I can’t wait for them to come back and play a smaller venue. Fiesta KC, perhaps?
Foo Fighters set list:
Learn to Fly
Cold Day in the Sun
I Should Have Known
Skin and Bones
This is a Call
All My Life
Long Road to Ruin
Best of You
Times Like These
Breakdown (Tom Petty cover)
School’s Out (Alice Cooper cover)
Mariachi El Bronx set list:
Silver or Lead
Mariachi El Bronx