Foo Fighters, Acoustic Tour

Music Reviews Foo Fighters
Foo Fighters, Acoustic Tour

Dave Grohl is an enigma—he played drums for one of the world’s most popular ‘90s bands, then, after the death of the band’s leader, picked up the pieces, broke his drumsticks over his knee, grabbed a guitar and never looked back. Plus, the Foo Fighters could’ve easily been just another flash in the pan had it not been for their steady stream of hits written by Mr. Grohl.

Tonight, the band is playing an all-acoustic set at the Beacon Theater in New York City. The house is at capacity, and Grohl begins off the set with “Razor,” the repetitive closer on the acoustic half of the Foo’s latest, In Your Honor. A first song, especially during an acoustic set, should be a table-setter, not a dozer … and the crowd reacts accordingly, not sure what to do (it’s not a clapper-alonger). Only after Grohl brings the song to a frenzied pitch, inviting the rest of the band onstage, did the audience come to life. The foo-chestra was a pleasant surprise and included the ever-energetic Pat Smear (of the Germs and Nirvana fame), Nate Mendel, Taylor Hawkins, Chris Shiflett, Petra Haden, a percussionist and a keyboardist/accordionist. The diverse group of musicians would lead to some of night’s most exciting—and dull—moments.

Tonight Grohl is talkative, explaining that he and his band have “little time [and] a lot of fuckin’ hits.” Ironically, the vast majority of the songs played tonight are rarities or acoustic songs from the new album that have yet to hit the mainstream. The haunting “Over and Out,” a strong new track, features the percussionist on a vibraphone and Shiflett on a 12-string acoustic, along with Grohl’s pristine vocals (it’s hard to believe Cobain never let him sing lead … ever). “Walking After You,” swelled nicely at the bridges and added a beautiful organ part to the second verse. Speaking of his former band, Grohl dusts off “Marigold,” a Grohl-penned Nirvana rarity, which receives a flurry of applause but may have thrown the average fan for a loop. The strength of the track, however, rids fans of any doubt that this was just another Nirvana b-side.

Highlights from the main set include a cut-time “Hero,” which reached a point of insanity at the second chorus, much to the audience’s delight; and the foot-stomping “Cold Day in the Sun,” which features drummer Taylor Hawkins on lead vocals (who has a truly incredible voice … watch out Don Henley!).

The only major disappointments of the set were a poorly miked version of “Floaty” (from the Foo’s first album), sung by Petra Haden, who attempted to get the audience to participate in the song but failed miserably, and a simply dreadful version of “Virginia Moon,” from the new album, this time suffering from Ms. Haden’s poor harmonies with Grohl.

But the night ended on a good note, with two rousing renditions of Foo Fighters’ modern classics: “The Best of You,” before which Grohl asked the audience if he could sing it in his normal growl (much to the audience’s delight) and “Everlong,” during which the crowd doubled on vocals. Now that’s unforced audience participation at its best.

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