Only Dave Grohl can make nursing a broken leg look cool. On the road promoting Sonic Highways since December, he and the rest of the Foo Fighters finally embarked on a string of homecoming shows—Anaheim on Saturday for Laguna Hills-born drummer Taylor Hawkins, and the band’s home base of Los Angeles tonight, September 21, and tomorrow, September 22. Opening for them is inimitable bluesman Gary Clark Jr., who’s worth the early arrival. We caught their show this weekend to give you a taste of what to expect right here in L.A.
For a frontman so frenetic when he’s on his feet, being confined to a chair must be brutal for Grohl. But, as we’ve seen since his tumble in Sweden, it’s hardly a chair at all; it’s a throne decked out with a giant Foo Fighters logo, the necks of a dozen guitars, a fog machine, lights, and a cup holder for a bottle of champagne. Maybe it’s so awesome because he designed the thing in the hospital—while he was “high as a kite” on morphine and oxycontin. After opening the show with One by One’s “All My Life,” Grohl managed to get up close and personal with the fans by having his throne placed on a rail that took him down the catwalk. The set that followed brimmed with hits—“Times Like These,” “Learn to Fly,” “My Hero,” “The Pretender,” “Monkey Wrench,” a slow and lovably dramatic version of “Big Me”—as well as tracks from Sonic Highways and a couple deeper cuts for the “old school Foo Fighters fans who need to sit down.”
“Take a load off, you guys,” Grohl said before “Breakout,” during which he played guitar with his cast. “I know what it’s like to be 46. They don’t make minivans like they used to.”
As an homage to his life in Orange County, Hawkins brought out his lifelong friend Jon Davison, his pre-Foo Fighters bandmate and now the lead singer of Yes. Back in high school, Davison said, he and Hawkins were the biggest Rush fans, “mullets and all.”
“We tried to learn a Yes song but they’re too fucking hard,” Grohl added. “We learned the next best thing—a Rush song.”
Davison did Geddy Lee’s vocals justice in their cover of the Canadian band’s hit “Tom Sawyer” (and, with his slender build, long hair, and glasses, Davison incidentally looked a bit like Lee, as well). “He was the toughest kid in our class, too,” said Hawkins, the consummate Southern Californian with his board shorts, tank top, and dirty blonde locks. “That guy?” Grohl joked back, typical banter between him, Hawkins and bandmates Chris Shifflett (lead guitar), Pat Smear (rhythm guitar), and Nate Mendel (bass). But on Saturday, the spotlight was on Hawkins in particular, whom Grohl made the hero of the night.
“That’s what I got,” Grohl beamed after prodding Hawkins to take a rare drum solo in honor of his hometown gig. He responded with an aw-shucks headshake. “Ladies, he’s all mine. I put an ad in the paper that said I’m looking for a drummer who’s the love child of Ronda Rousey and Freddie Mercury. That’s Taylor Hawkins.”
They soon dipped back into covers with Pink Floyd’s “In The Flesh?,” David Bowie & Queen’s “Under Pressure” (with Hawkins on vocals while drumming), and Van Halen’s “Ain’t Talkin’ About Love.”
There are plenty of chances to catch the Foos put on one of the most entertaining and satisfying live shows on the touring circuit right now. Aside from the Forum, they’ll return to Orange County on October 17 for another go at the Honda Center. “It’s on my fucking calendar. I hope it’s on yours. Maybe we should sync our iCals,” Grohl said, pulling out his best Valley girl impression for the last bit. He then told the crowd they never say goodbye. “What do we do instead?” he asked as they launched into “Everlong,” the clock creeping past the Honda Center’s 11 p.m. curfew.
After 20 years of being the Foo Fighters, broken limbs and curfews are just insignificant bumps on the road—in a comfortable minivan—to 20 more.