Live: A Different Foo Fighters Come to Town

Foo Fighters pic #1
(l to r) Taylor Hawkins, Chris Shiflett, Dave Grohl, & Nate Mendel.
Photo courtesy of the Foo Fighters.

TOYOTA CENTER -- 1/23/2008: As the lights lifted from behind the stage, it was apparent right away that it was a different Foo Fighters show for Houston. The stage, backed by four screens, was packed with an eight-piece band. Guitarist (ex-Foo) Pat Smear, organist Rami Jaffee, percussionist Drew Hester, and Jessy Greene on strings joined the band for the opener. "Let It Die," off latest album Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace, seemed like an odd way to start off, but as soon as the distortion kicked in, the growl was heard. It became the Dave Grohl Show.
Moving into "Pretender," the band was broken down, morphing into the standard lineup of Grohl on guitar and vocals, Taylor Hawkins on drums, Nate Mendel on bass, and Chris Shiflett on guitar. Full of humor and grace, Grohl moved through the set comfortably -- hitting on a mom in the crowd, improvising leads with Shiflett, and making a remark on the smell of "stripper perfume and weed." The screens behind the band became an instant live music video, which was at times distracting. Not many in the mixture of middle-aged rockers, teen newcomers, and the rug rats watching from shoulders paid attention to the screens, however. It was all about the rock, and the Foos always hold up their side of the deal.
After running through songs off each record, "Stacked Actors" ended with Hawkins doing what someone called "a late Keith Moon drum solo." A second stage dropped from the roof of the Toyota Center, where the band, including the touring hired guns, marched into a half-hour acoustic set that slowed down the show a bit. There were highlights in this set, including "Marigold" and Hawkins doing a Peter Criss-style "Cold Day." Grohl was left alone on the small round stage for "Everlong," as the band regrouped on the main stage for the closing of the song, then quickly moving straight into "Monkey Wrench" and "All My Life."
Still singing anthems about love, remorse, and the future, Dave Grohl has become an unexpected arena rock star with the power to keep the crowd on its feet. END