Madison Square Garden, New York
Tuesday, Feb. 19
He's been leading Foo Fighters for 13 years and was part of another rather consequential band before that (as a no-doubt apocryphal '70s teenager once asked, "Paul McCartney was in a band before Wings?"), but Dave Grohl acted like a thrilled newcomer at the group's debut Garden performance Tuesday night. "Goddamn, we're playing Madison Square fucking Garden!" he exclaimed at the beginning of the evening.
Grohl and company, touring to support their Grammy-winning "Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace," clearly are giving it all they have. "This is gonna be a long night, this is no In-N-Out Burger," he promised before taking mock bids on the length of the show. "Do I hear one hour?" he teased. "One hour and 15 minutes?" Much to the crowd's delight, he finally settled on two hours.
And so it was as the quartet -- augmented by past guitarist Pat Smear, percussionist Drew Hester, keyboardist Rami Jaffee and violinist Jessy Greene -- delivered a full-throttle set that included about two dozen numbers. Grohl, in excellent voice, proved himself a highly energetic and entertaining frontman.
This was best illustrated in his numerous forays down the long catwalk that divided the arena. In between striking guitar god poses for the cell phone cameras, he threatened to rival Mick Jagger for the sheer number of miles run during a show.
It's hard to believe that it took so long for the Foos to hit the Garden, because their brand of anthemic rock, complete with hummable melodies and head-banging choruses, is perfectly suited for arenas. The show was perfectly paced for maximum effect, including such current songs as "The Pretender," "Let It Die," "Long Road to Ruin" and "But Honestly" and such past favorites as "Times Like These," "Monkey Wrench," "Learn to Fly," "Breakout" and the final encore "Best of You."
The excellent, if by now obligatory, acoustic set was delivered on a small stage located on the other side of the arena. ("You thought you had the shitty seats, didn't you?" Grohl joked). Although that portion of the show had its silly interludes -- including a "triangle solo" by Hester that we were assured surely was a Garden first -- it also provided one of the show's highlights, "Everlong." Begun acoustically by Grohl after the others had returned to the main stage, it continued with the singer frantically running down the catwalk to join the band as they revved up in full amplified fervor. It well demonstrated the Foos' ability to blend quiet emotion with rock 'n' roll fury.