If there’s one thing you can count on lately when you walk into a Foo Fighters concert, it’s that you probably won’t get home until tomorrow.
Three nights after playing for 2 1/2 hours in D.C. and just one night after a three-hour marathon show in Richmond, Va., Dave Grohl’s rock band took the stage at Greensboro Coliseum and warned fans that they needed to buckle up.
“Foo Fighters got a lot of f------ songs, so we don’t got much time to f--- around. We gotta play song after song after song after song after song after song,” Grohl sneered, punctuating the word “song” each time so that it felt like a verbal karate chop.
Bottom line: “It’s gonna be a long f------ night.”
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Making the third stop on its 25-city “Concrete and Gold” tour, Foo Fighters dutifully played more than half of the new album (out for exactly a month as of Sunday) but also piled on a seemingly endless parade of hits from its 22 years in the rock biz.
The band went on for so long – 2 hours and 50 minutes, stopping just shy of midnight – that Grohl’s shaggy, dark-brown locks seemed to have grown an inch or two between the start and the end of the show.
The 26-song setlist featured at least one song from each of its nine studio albums, plus the title track from 2006’s live acoustic album “Skin and Bones.” Lower-profile new songs like “Arrows” and deep cuts like 1997’s “Enough Space” were note-for-note reproductions of the studio versions, while the Foo classics were super-sized, full of sonic flourishes and reprises.
A seven-minute version of “Learn to Fly” in which Grohl brought back the final chorus at least half a dozen times flowed right into an eight-minute version of quiet/loud/quiet/deafening anthem “The Pretender” – which featured an extended Bob Seger-inspired riff that turned into a guitar duel between Grohl and lead guitarist Chris Shiflett.
It’s what smart artists do, by the way: They milk the heck out of the fan favorites because (surprise!) fans came to hear their favorites. Foo Fighters know “Best of You” is going to have more of the crowd singing along than almost any other song on any given night, so what do they do? They close out the main set by essentially singing it not once, but twice.
Now, if you only got music out of Foo, that alone would be a tremendous amount of bang for your buck. But Grohl wants to do more than just chew his gum, whip his hair and shred his guitar.
He’ll look a upper-deck fan in the eye and scream, “You better get your ass out of that seat, motherf-----!,” but then he’ll grin, and though those words don’t sound playful on paper, they are. He’ll stop the show to commend a boy on the floor who’s been singing along to every song all night, then restart it by introducing 1995’s “This Is a Call” to him like this: “It’s f------ older than you.”
He’ll get the whole arena to do The Wave, without even asking them to do The Wave. Then later, he will ask, and the whole arena will do it again.
Even the band introductions were a blast. Shiflett started by tearing into the opening guitar riff of Led Zeppelin’s “Communication Breakdown,” but no one joined in, with Grohl half-joking that the rest of them just aren’t up to that level. After Keyboardist Rami Jaffee pounded out the opening chords of Van Halen’s “Jump,” Grohl and the band did join in – before giving up when he realized he didn’t know the words. Guitarist Pat Smear then took on “Blitzkrieg Bop,” and his mates ran with a few “Hey ho, let’s go!s” before Grohl shut it down. “That’s all we know,” he said, throwing up his hands with a smirk. “Although it’s basically just that for a few minutes.”
Intros aside, as supporting performances go, Jaffee’s accordion solo during “Skin and Bones” and drummer Taylor Hawkins’ handling of the vocals on “Sunday Rain” stood out; it’s also worth noting that Foo Fighters employed three female backup singers for “The Sky Is a Neighborhood,” “Make It Right” and “Dirty Water,” all of which are from “Concrete and Gold.”
“While we were in the studio,” Grohl said, “we were like, ‘Let’s put 36 f------ vocals on every godd--- song. And then after the record was done, we were like, ‘Oops. S---. What do we do?’ So what we did is we hired three of the best f------ singers we’ve ever met in our lives.”
They were, indeed, a smooth and silky complement to Grohl’s vocal instrument, which can range from a harmonious coo to harrowing screech, often within the same verse.
And that’s the most astounding thing about him: His ability to come out screaming at the top of his lungs at the beginning of a show, keep pace for 165 minutes, and still have enough for a soaring version of “Everlong” to end cap it.
“I’m genetically predisposed to scream my f------ b---- off every night,” Grohl told the crowd. “Didn’t really come in handy when I was working at the furniture warehouse in f------ Springfield, Virginia – but it works really well for me right now.”
Next for Foo: The tour is passing through Charlotte, but only because it’s on its way to Columbia, S.C. That show will take place at Colonial Life Arena on Tuesday night, and may or may not spill over into Wednesday morning...
Foo Fighters setlist
2. “All My Life”
3. “Learn to Fly”
4. “The Pretender”
5. “The Sky Is a Neighborhood”
6. “Something From Nothing”
9. “Sunday Rain”
10. “My Hero”
11. “These Days”
12. “Let It Die”
13. “I’ll Stick Around”
14. “Enough Space”
15. “White Limo”
18. “Times Like These”
20. “Make It Right”
21. “Skin and Bones”
22. “Monkey Wrench”
23. “Best of You”
24. “Dirty Water”
25. “This Is a Call”