Just before the music started, Dave Grohl screamed “Are you ready?” from behind the giant Foo Fighters curtain.
When Grohl appeared and started playing “Everlong,” Foo Fighters’ smash hit from 1997’s The Colour and the Shape, the crowd went nuts. The band then played “Monkey Wrench,” the first single from that album, and “Learn to Fly,” from their 1999 follow-up, There Is Nothing Left to Lose.
Grohl and his band couldn’t have played a better set of opening songs. Following a three-year absence from San Diego, the Foos were ready to give the crowd exactly what they wanted.
After screaming and singing through the opener, Grohl apologized to the audience by saying “I’m genetically predisposed to scream.”
The affable singer then sang “Big Me” as a love song dedicated to the road crew, who’d made his “throne” possible. (Grohl broke his leg this summer and wanted a chair that that could mechanically move up and down the catwalk.)
Foo Fighters performed just a few songs from the their new album, Sonic Highways. One highlight from that album was “Congregation,” complete with stained glass windows displayed on the screen behind the band.
At the midpoint of the show, Foo Fighters played snippets of classic rock songs by Van Halen, the Kinks, Rush, Yes, and Queen to introduce the people onstage. As each band member played a short solo, the band would pick up on it and continue the song for about a minute. Grohl commented, “We know 60 classic rock songs, but only the first minute of each of them.” The crowd loved it when Taylor Hawkins, whom Dave introduced as “the ayatollah fuckin’ rock ‘n rolla” sang like Freddy Mercury to his nephew Aidan, who was in the audience.
Other concert highlights were “My Hero” which turned into a giant sing along. Throughout the night, the band’s tight musicianship was on display, with songs like “Arlandria,” “Walk,” and “These Days” showcasing their cohesion.
Dave is known for giving others their fifteen minutes of fame during concerts. When he spotted audience member Steve Lawshe, whose dancing ways make him something of a legend in San Diego’s Ocean Beach neighborhood, Dave said, “Come here Tiny Dancer. Ladies & gentlemen, welcome to the best fucking Foo Fighters show ever! Happy Feet Steve is on Facebook. You’d better start making t-shirts, motherfucker.”
Grohl’s an expert at milking adoration from the crowd. He made sure fans had plenty of opportunities to scream their appreciation and he loved every minute of it. His throne detracted a bit from the show, which might explain the overcompensating. The 46-year-old singer did his best to keep everyone energized, but other members of of the band (Chris Shiflett, Pat Smear, and Nate Mendel) looked weary.
Even Grohl has admitted that 25 minutes before shows, there’s a feeling of Fuck, we have to do this again… We’ve been touring for 20 years. Of course, everything changes once they hit the stage.
Dave Grohl is “predisposed to scream,” so don’t plan on the Foos to go away anytime soon.
Photos: Foo Fighters at Sleep Train Amphitheatre