Welcome back to The Rock Show, where it’s all about the music! The Foo Fighters played the Wells Fargo Center last night in support of their newest album Wasting Light. Social Distortion and The Joy Formidable served as openers. The show was unbelievable, and it went on for a good five hours from the time The Joy Formidable took the stage to the time the Foo Fighters ended. Here are the set lists from last night’s show – The Joy Formidable and Foo Fighters sets are definitely correct. However, I’m not familiar enough with Social Distortion to know exactly what they played, so take their list with a grain of salt:
The Joy Formidable
- A Heavy Abacus
- The Greatest Light is the Greatest Shade
- Bad Luck
- So Far Away
- Machine Gun Blues
- Story of My Life
- Gimme the Sweet and Lowdown
- Reach for the Sky
- Prison Bound
- Don’t Drag Me Down
- Ring of Fire [Johnny Cash cover]
- Bridge Burning
- The Pretender
- My Hero
- Learn to Fly
- White Limo
- Cold Day in the Sun
- Stacked Actors
- Monkey Wrench
- Let it Die
- These Days
- This is a Call
- In the Flesh? [Pink Floyd cover]
- All My Life
- Wheels *
- Best of You *
- Times Like These **
- Dear Rosemary
- Breakdown [Tom Petty cover]
* Dave Grohl solo acoustic
** Dave Grohl solo acoustic for half, full band for half
Foo Fighters were likely tied with Pearl Jam right up at the top of my concert bucket list. Pearl Jam still remains on that list (someday soon, I hope!), but after last night, I can happily remove Foo Fighters from under the heading “Bands I Want to See” and relocate them to “Bands I Want to See Again.” I had heard a lot of rumors about this tour, but I tried to stay away from it all to avoid spoilers – I wasn’t as lucky as I had hoped, but there were still quite a few surprises. Anyway, word on the street was that the band was playing almost three hours of music this time around. Needless to say, I was pumped for an intense show. That’s certainly what I got!
The Joy Formidable took the stage about five minutes early and started playing an intro jam. The band is a three-piece which is pretty astounding considering the sound they make both on stage and on the record. What surprised me right off the bat was the big, crystal clear sound they had – a lot of times openers don’t sound as good, especially in a large arena when only a few people are in their seats yet. In addition to their sound, the light show was very complex for a band only playing five songs. The atmosphere of their set made you forget that you were at a Foo Fighters concert and that these guys were just an opener. After the short intro jam they broke into “A Heavy Abacus” from their full-length debut The Big Roar (the whole set was from the debut album – no EPs or covers). The band is extremely energetic – Ritzy Bryan (guitar/vocals) and Rhydian Dafydd (bass/vocals) were very mobile during the instrumental parts, running across the stage and back as well as interacting with each other very frequently. Most songs had short little jams in between them, mostly from drummer Matt Thomas. “Austere” was the second song – featuring the audience clapping along to the driving bass drum that led into the song, followed by the album’s closer “The Greatest Light is the Greatest Shade.” “Cradle” came next – one of my favorites – with a very impressive drum intro. Finally, the band closed with their hit single “Whirring,” and jammed it out for a good five minutes or so. The lights were epileptic, and the band members frantically increased and decreased the tempo so much that it was incredible that they stayed so tight together. At one point, Ritzy wound up banging a gong that stood behind their set-up white Matt was busy throwing multiple sets of drumsticks across the stage. As a fan already, I was seriously impressed with their performance and love them even more now. Hopefully their mind-numbing show convinced a few others to pick up their album!
Social Distortion took the stage shortly before 8pm. Now, I’d like to apologize in advance to fans of Social Distortion – I really don’t know anything about their music, and as a result I cannot make any sort of judgments about their show in regards to that. I can say, however, that they had a very full, clear sound and a great light show as well. As far as their music is concerned, nothing really grabbed my attention except for “Reach for the Sky” (the only song by them that I know) and their very interesting cover of “Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash. I wish I was more familiar with them so that I could fairly review their set, but it would be unfair for me to try. I’ll leave the Social Distortion reviews up to the Social Distortion fans.
The Foo Fighters took the stage at around 9pm, opening with the blistering “Bridge Burning” – the first track off of Wasting Light. “Rope” came next with no break between the songs, and featured the first of many, many jams of the night during the outro. One thing I will say about the show that I wasn’t crazy about – jams are great, and I love it when a band jams the end of a song or does an extended solo or something like that for a few songs in the set. However, when the band does a jam on every single song they play, it can get a bit tedious after a while. There were some really great ones (“Stacked Actors” and “Monkey Wrench” were awesome), but some of them either went on too long or just didn’t seem necessary. Still, the music kicked ass – I just tend to prefer actual songs to jams.
After “Rope” came two more big hits – “The Pretender” and “My Hero.” “My Hero” in particular was epic, with the entire crowd singing along to every word, and Dave Grohl running out into the aisle in the middle of the pit (something he did multiple times throughout the show). After the song ended the band addressed the crowd and made sure we knew that they weren’t the kind of band that plays little one hour rock shows. Or two hour rock shows. They were going to play until they decided to stop playing, and we weren’t going to work tomorrow. In fact, let’s play extra long tonight, huh? Of course, being Dave Grohl, the commentary was chock full of expletives (Here’s a video of that bit of commentary – strong language warning). With that, the band launched into another big hit – “Learn to Fly” from There is Nothing Left to Lose.
Next came two songs off of the new album – “White Limo” (eh, not a huge fan), and “Arlandria” (which was awesome). “White Limo” had some sick lighting effects, regardless of the fact that I think the song is just noise, and the energy it had in a live setting totally blew the studio version away. “Arlandria” was great, as expected. The next song was dedicated to all the old-school Foo Fighters fans – “Breakout” from There is Nothing Left to Lose. This one included another extensive jam, but it had a ton of energy. Dave encouraged the crowd to sing along, as well. Here’s a video of “Breakout” (language warning, and low sound quality). After the song was over, Dave introduced the band and talked for quite a while. He mentioned that the Philly show was the biggest turnout of the entire tour, and that he was shocked that so many people came to the show. After introducing drummer Taylor Hawkins the band broke into “Cold Day in the Sun” from In Your Honor, a song featuring Taylor on vocals.
“Stacked Actors” came next, featuring a long jam in which Dave and lead guitarist Chris Shiflett engaged in a back and forth guitar solo ‘battle,’ for lack of a better word. The jam eventually brought the song to an end, and “Walk” began right where “Stacked Actors” left off. “Walk” was one of the few songs that did not have an extended jam in it, and it sounded really good and had great energy. The light show that accompanied this concert was unbelievable all throughout, as well. After talking to the crowd again they launched into what had to be at least a ten minute rendition of “Monkey Wrench” – complete with a jam session in the middle where all the lights went out and the band played a very atmospheric, bluesy jam in the dark with only the lights from the lighters in the crowd.
“Let it Die” came next, followed by “These Days” from Wasting Light which Dave introduced as his favorite song he ever wrote. It’s definitely one of my favorites off of the new album, so I can see where he’s coming from on that one. It was definitely one of the best performances of the night, as well. “This is a Call” from their debut album came next, featuring a cover of Pink Floyd’s “In the Flesh?” at the end. Finally, “All My Life” closed the show out with some of the most intense energy of the entire night. With that, the main set was over and the band took their leave. After a decent wait a video came on the screen featuring the band backstage. Dave asked if we’d like one more, and of course the crowd cheered. Then Taylor suggests two more, to which Dave sternly says no. Only one. Boo, hiss. Okay, fine – two more. Hey, how about three? No, just two. Boo, hiss. All right, fine. Let’s make it four. Cheering. Or five. No, four. Just four. Boo! Okay, fine. Have it your way. We’ll do five. Wait for it…wait for it…how about six?
All the while we never noticed Dave coming out with an acoustic guitar on a riser in the middle of the pit. After talking to the crowd a bit more, he decided to play a song that they don’t play very often, “Wheels” from their Greatest Hits package. In the midst of the song, Dave made a deal – if we could sing the chorus loud enough, he promised that the Foo Fighters would come back and play a show at the Electric Factory. We did. I’m holding you to it, Dave. I’ll be waiting. An acoustic rendition of “Best of You” followed, although I would have loved to hear that one with the full band since the drums are so awesome. My favorite tune came next after a teaser of the Beatles song “Blackbird” – Dave started “Times Like These” on the acoustic guitar, but the full band kicked in halfway through.
Next, the band brought out special guest guitarist Bob Mould to play “Dear Rosemary,” the last track of the night from Wasting Light. The song kicked ass, and as it came to a close the band jammed it out into a cover of Tom Petty’s “Breakdown.” Bob Mould left the stage after that, leaving the Foos to play the final song of the night – “Everlong.” This was, without question, the best performance of the entire show. When the song was over, the last chord hung in the air for a very long time as the crowd began to disperse. It was a very long show – normally concerts fly by, but this one lasted just as long as it was supposed to. The band clearly gives you your money’s worth, that’s for sure. And now, Pearl Jam no longer has any contention for the top spot on my concert bucket list.
Here are a few more videos from the show. There are a whole lot of them on Youtube, and I highly recommend taking a look if you didn’t make it to the show. Strong language warnings on all of them, of course.
These Days: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GNUbWYJQJD0
~The Rock Show, where it’s all about the music! Keep listening!