Concert Reviews

Foo Fighters Took Denver on a Rock-and-Roll Ride With Ups and Downs

Foo Fighters at the Pepsi Center on October 10, 2018.
Foo Fighters at the Pepsi Center on October 10, 2018. Aaron Thackeray
Early in Wednesday night’s set at the Pepsi Center, Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl made it clear that the crowd was in for a long fucking night, just as he did the last time the band played at the Pepsi Center — seven years ago, almost to the day.

“We’ve been a band for almost 25 fucking years now,” Grohl said to the audience while playing the opening chords to “Something for Nothing." “We got a lot of songs we got to play tonight. Right? You want 25 years worth of shit tonight? I can do that. Tonight we’re going to play something off of every fucking record we’ve made. We’re going to work backwards. We’re going to go back in time. How about that shit? How about the old-school fans? You want to go back in time? Saddle up, partner. It’s going to be a fucking long-ass ride.”

And that long-ass two-and-a-half-hour ride kicked off with four cuts from the band’s ninth and most recent album, Concrete and Gold, released last year. Grohl, who’s three months from his fiftieth birthday, bolted around the stage like a madman, wearing red high-top Vans, his signature Gibson strapped on, pausing every so often to toss water on himself.

“I’m up here sweating my fucking ass off,” Grohl said during an epic ten-minute take on “The Pretender.” You know why? Do you know why? Because I fucking love rock and roll.”

For a dude who’s fronted the Foo Fighters for half as long as he’s been alive, that was clear as it was ever going to be. But Grohl wasn’t the only one on stage who fucking loved rock and roll. There was drummer Taylor Hawkins, beating the shit out of the drums throughout the set, even taking over lead vocals on “Sunday Rain” while his drum stand was raised hydraulically about twenty feet from the stage for the song.

“This motherfucker’s been working overtime all night,” Grohl said of Hawkins later in the show. “He makes Lance Armstrong look like the Snapple lady.”

And guitarist Pat Smear, with his perpetual smile, guitarist Chris Shiflett, who was fairly reserved but brought the solos, bassist Nate Mendel and keyboardist Rami Jaffee who were all part of the insanely energetic rock show that was heavy on the band’s hits over the years, like “Walk,” “These Days,” “Times Like These,” “Learn to Fly,” “Breakout” and “Everlong,” which closed out the night.

During the band introductions, the Foo Fighters took a bit of an interlude with Shiflett soloing by himself, followed by a snippet of Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust” played by Mendel and Hawkins, who also sang. Jaffee then played John Lennon’s “Imagine” on piano while Grohl sang the lyrics of Van Halen’s “Jump,” and strangely enough, the mashup worked somehow. After Grohl introduced Smear, the band launched into a quick dash through the Ramones’ “Blitzkrieg Bop.”

click to enlarge Foo Fighters at the Pepsi Center on October 10, 2018. - AARON THACKERAY
Foo Fighters at the Pepsi Center on October 10, 2018.
Aaron Thackeray
Near the end of “Monkey Wrench,” Grohl hopped off the stage and approached someone by the railing for a few moments before climbing back up and onto the sub-woofer.

“It’s not often that you see someone pass out standing up,” Grohl said, then asked if the person needs some water, energy drink or a Tiger Milk bar.

“If I can run my ass around in this altitude for two and half hours, you can fucking stand there and stay awake,” Grohl said. “You gonna make it? I’m watching your ass now. Fucking falling asleep front row motherfucker. Shit. If I wasn’t on fucking stage running around, I’d be back home fucking watching Netflix, too. “

Then Grohl said he loved his job. That much is clear. Dude loves to rock, and there aren’t many frontmen who can rock harder than he does.

“I used to work at Shakey’s Pizza. “That shit sucked. This is way better. This fucking kills Shakey’s Pizza. How many of you have all eaten Shakey’s Pizza? Just remember it was assholes like me making that shit for you in the kitchen.”

For the first encore, Grohl mentioned they’d met three female backup singers a couple of days ago and that since they had them on tour they could play songs like “Dirty Water,” from Concrete and Gold, which he said was like some “Beach Boys shit.”

As with some other Foo Fighters numbers, the song started gradually and gained momentum. Over a quarter of a decade together, the band has mastered the art of dynamics with its epic builds from quiet starts or blasting off at the beginning, breaking it down and bringing it up again. There was a lot of loud-quiet-loud Wednesday night.

Before closing out the marathon night with “Everlong,” Grohl mentioned it wasn’t the group's first time playing in Denver, adding they played the Ogden Theatre.

“I’d like to thank all of you for coming out tonight and sticking around for the last 24 years,” Grohl said. “If it weren’t for you, we wouldn’t fucking be here. So, thank you very much everybody. I still fucking love doing it."
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Jon Solomon writes about music and nightlife for Westword, where he's been the Clubs Editor since 2006.
Contact: Jon Solomon