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Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl celebrated his 46th birthday in true rock star style, taking over Los Angeles’ the Forum on Saturday (Jan. 10) for a concert featuring several of his musical heroes and peers.
Playing to a full house of devoted fans, the “friends and family” gig doubled as a benefit, with proceeds from ticket sales earmarked for Musicares and the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund, but it was as much an opportunity for Grohl to rock out to his heart’s content with no time limit.
And did he ever. Hitting the rotating stage just after 8 p.m. with fellow Foo Fighters Taylor Hawkins, Nate Mendel, Pat Smear, Chris Shiflett and Rami Jaffee in position, the night kicked off with the first of almost a dozen special guests: Kiss guitarist Paul Stanley, performing his band’s anthemic “Detroit Rock City.” Grohl then segued into classic Foos territory with “All My Life,” “Rope,” “Pretender” and “My Hero” before inviting the next group of surprise stars to the stage: Tenacious D’s Jack Black and Kyle Gass along with Slash.
As is usually the case with the comedy duo, hilarity ensued as Black acted out portions of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” then cued a mass of balloons to drop as he led the crowd in the “Happy Birthday” song.
A parade of pals followed, including Alice Cooper, who sang “School’s Out” and “18,” Nick Oliveri (of Queens of the Stone Age and Kyuss), Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Zakk Wylde and Perry Farrell, the Jane’s Addiction singer delivering his band’s chant-worthy “Mountain Song,” though struggling a bit for his vocals to be heard over the onslaught of guitars. The next song, a cover of the Rolling Stones‘ “Miss You,” didn’t go smoothly either as Farrell punted vocal duties to Hawkins, confessing he didn’t know the words.
No matter, the night was all in good fun, like when Grohl proved to be perfectly adept at bass, which he strapped on to accompany “badass shredder” Wylde. “I don’t know how to play this f—ing thing,” Grohl cracked. Hardly. As a power trio (with Hawkins on drums), each was able to latch on to the other’s grit and find their groove.
In between guest turns, Grohl and crew ran through the Foos’ oeuvre, hitting on crowd favorites like “Best of You,” “This Is a Call,” “Monkey Wrench” and “Times Like These” as well as lesser-known album cuts “Arlandria,” “White Limo” and “Cold Day in the Sun.” For “Everlong,” Grohl gave his bandmates a much-needed break (“Motherf—er’s working hard!,” he said of Hawkins) and performed most of the song solo.
It was about two-and-a-half hours in when Grohl revealed how the birthday bash had come together. While it was back in December when he first hinted at a special show, midway through a similar Foos gig at Sunset Strip haunt the Roxy, recruiting this group involved running down the list of rock luminaries Grohl has on his phone. At the same time, Grohl explained from the stage, he also reached out to a few he didn’t know, and it yielded one key result: the arrival of David Lee Roth.
Eliciting the loudest cheers, other than the insanely impressive brass stylings of Trombone Shorty, the Van Halen singer — sporting a Dexys Midnight Runners look with baggy jeans and a flat cap — strutted bare-chested, gyrated and kicked his way through “Panama” in what felt like the apex of an already unbelievable show. But in his typical Grohl way, there was one more idol to reveal and it was perhaps the biggest of all: Motorhead’s Lemmy Kilmister.
In a night of celebration, the presence of Kilmister, whose band had a profound effect on Grohl as a musician, offered a moment of reflection. Said Grohl, whose resume now includes drummer, singer, director and all-around champion of rock: “This is the longest I’ve ever had a job.” At three-and-a-half hour mark, he promised an even longer, no-encore set next time the band plays the Forum — no occasion necessary other than the desire to rock.
This story originally appeared on Billboard.com.
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