It is Monday night and Little Caesars Arena in Detroit is sold out to hear the raw rock gospel of the Foo Fighters.
In times like these, it is important to remember the power of music. The gift of the musicians who can bring us together to share an experience is nothing short of miraculous. The Foo Fighters have long been rock and roll evangelists. They preach the power of hope in the face of adversity on their latest album ‘Concrete and Gold’. They threw a fire-breathing rock and roll revival to celebrate the glory of rock music by packing in several thousand of their closest friends into Little Caesars Arena.
As the arena was filling up, the Australian band Gang Of Youths start the evening off in fine fashion. Their music is joyous and ripe with stories. They provide a modern rock take on the time-honored traditions of rock artists such as John Mellencamp and Bruce Springsteen. On stage this band is ebullient and engaging. They provide a satisfying warm-up for the evening.
From the opening rush of “Run” until the end of “Everlong”, the Foo Fighters burned brilliantly for nearly three hours of rock. Leading us on this marathon of music is the seemingly tireless Dave Grohl. Pointing into the crowd, screaming, and thrashing on stage, Dave is a rock music savant. His exuberance is nourishing and fuels the band and the audience. We all feel empowered and blissful as the band pounces on “These Days”, “The Pretender”, and “Times Like These”.
Dave yells out “Do you know why the Foo Fighters are here? Because I fucking love rock and roll!” and we all yell our heads off. Dave explains his love for old school raw rock music and mentions “This is where it goes from an arena rock show to a keg party”. While there are thousands of people here, the Foo Fighters make us feel like they are talking to each of us individually. This is our show and this is our band.
During “Breakout”, Dave banters about the place underneath St. Andrews throwing a reference to the venerable Shelter. He indicates that perhaps the Foo Fighters will eventually come around full circle from playing arenas back to the little dive bars from the early Nirvana days. To cement that imagery, the backdrop video display lowers down over the band to give that small club vibe within the expanse of the arena.
In the spirit of making sure we all have a big and badass rock show, Dave prompts Chris Shiflett for an Ace Frehley inspired guitar solo. This appears aimed at “Kiss Guy” up in the seats who has the Paul Stanley star-child makeup and a sign saying he wants to jam Detroit Rock City with the band. No luck for “Kiss Guy”, but a kid and his dad catch Dave’s attention and are forced to spend a time-out sitting next to drummer Taylor Hawkins. That poor kid will probably be scarred for life.
Continuing to introduce the rest of the Foo Fighters, Dave mentions a bass solo and Nate Mendel obliges with the big and bouncy riff of “Another One Bites the Dust”. Apparently, since no one else in the band wants to play keyboards, Rami Jaffee takes his turn laying down a tripping deep house vibe as the video screen gets all psychedelic on our asses.
Rami segues into the much-loved melody of “Imagine” by John Lennon. Dave tells us he wants to bring us together, especially in this time of great divide. He asks us to sing along and the Foo Fighters create one of the best mash-ups in rock and roll by working in the lyrics to Van Halen’s “Jump” with the music of “Imagine”. As the prophet David Lee Roth exclaims “You got to roll with the punches and get to what’s real”. Former Germ and long-time Foo Fighter Pat Smear gets the nod and the band pops with a few bars of “Blitzkrieg Bop” from the Ramones to round out the band introductions.
One of the highlights of tonight’s rock extravaganza is hearing the Foo Fighter’s cover “Under Pressure” with Taylor taking on the vocals of Freddie Mercury and Dave tucking into the drums and covering David Bowie’s lines. Their rendition held true to the original and brought the house down. Both Freddie and David must be looking down with pride and a wry smile.
The Foo Fighters kick into overdrive with balls out versions of “My Hero”, “Monkey Wrench”, and “Best of You” to close out their set. The crowd cheers for more and Dave appears on the video screen putting his hand to his ear to incite the crowd for more. Holding up one finger leads to cheers, while two fingers yields a roar. Pulling in Taylor Hawkins, they vacillate between two and three fingers with the crowd responding in boos and cheers. This play continues until the band agrees to three more songs.
Dave gives a shout-out to the backup singers Laura Mace, Samantha Sidley, and Barbara Gruska as the band plays “Dirty Water”. The Foo Fighters cap off a night of pure rock fury with “This is a Call” and “Everlong”. One of the greatest rock bands in history blew the doors off Little Caesars Arena in Detroit and we loved every minute of it.