Foo Fighters performed at the Verizon Center Friday November 11 in support of "Wasting Light." Contributor Jay Trucker reviews the show.
From the opening riffs of “Bridge Burning,” Foo Fighters were locked in, often transitioning from song to song without pause for up to six songs in a row. Grohl, a veteran of the arena setting, and to a lesser extent, drummer Taylor Hawkins, are the showmen of the group.
But rest of the band, including eleventh-hour Nirvana guitarist and smile-machine Pat Smear, are clearly comfortable playing with one another and in front of a large crowd, keeping the pace of each song a half step faster than the album versions without pushing the songs to an unrecognizable tempo.
The band took the stage promptly at 9:02 p.m. (how’s that for timeliness, Axl Rose?) and put on a tight, nearly three-hour set full of the itss extensive catalog of hits. For Grohl, it was a homecoming, as he spent most of his childhood and adolescence in the Virginia suburbs of DC.
After seventeen years and seven studio albums, Foo Fighters' sound has remained constant, so old staples like “Monkey Wrench” and “This is a Call” blend easily with more recent fare like “The Pretender” and “Let it Die.”
Grohl played each of the band’s first seventeen songs with floppy-haired enthusiasm. Unlike, say Trent Reznor’s Nine Inch Nails electronic angst, the poppy grunge sound of the Foo Fighters still works in this setting and with a crowd that likely had to secure child care for the evening before buying tickets.
The audience’s appreciation for Grohl was tested during the encore, which began with the frontman performing by himself on a raised portion of the stage in the middle of the floor. After a few shout outs to local malls and hangouts from his early days, Grohl asked the crowd to do the wave before performing a pair of songs, “Wheels” and “Best of You” on an acoustic guitar.
At this point Grohl’s showmanship and enthusiasm gave way briefly to egotism, as Grohl clearly basked in the cheers from the audience while playing songs, which, stripped of the strength and weight of his professional bandmates, sounded like they could have been performed by any Joe Guitar at your local pub.
Thankfully, the rest of the band returned during “Times Like These” and three more songs. Aftewards, the crowd poured out of the Verizon Center and returned home home, happily drumming along on their minivan steering wheels to “Everlong” just as they had on their hand-me-down Accords 15 years ago.