Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Review & Set List: Foo Fighters at TWC Arena

For those who witnessed the Foo Fighters’ show at Bojangles' Coliseum four years ago, Tuesday’s concert at Time Warner Cable Arena had a lot to live up to. While it may not have surpassed the 2007 show, it met it beat for beat, with frontman Dave Grohl and his wily sidekick drummer Taylor Hawkins performing every last song as if it might be their last. From the opening notes of “Bridge Burning” to the final singalong of “Everlong,” Foo Fighters gave the crowd an intense yet simple straight-up rock show that sent many away thinking this just might be the greatest current rock band around.

England’s the Joy Formidable opened the show with a brief pop-rock wall of fuzz and mood (if you missed the band that celebrity musicians like Grohl have been buzzing about for months, it headlines Amos’ Southend Dec. 1). Punk granddads Social Distortion, who Grohl said were an early influence on him, turned in a mix of new songs and old favorites like “Bad Luck” and Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire.” The sound quality for their set was some of the best I’ve heard in the arena.

Foo Fighters -- who took the stage promptly at 9 p.m., promising a long show ahead (“You might want to call in tomorrow,” suggested Grohl) -- were louder and more animated, with Grohl instantly bouncing from foot to foot as the band pummeled through the first two tracks of its latest album “Wasting Light” (“Bridge Burning” and “Rope”). It then went into the hits “Pretender,” “My Hero,” and “Learn To Fly” before veering back to tracks from “Wasting Light.” He dedicated “White Limo” to Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Grohl, in black pants and a button-up shirt, seemed to feel it from the get-go. The intensity -- running down the aisle to a platform nearer to the cheaper seats -- even made modern-rock standards that you’ve heard a zillion times like “My Hero” seem fresh. As the audience beckoned the sentiment of the song back to him, you knew Grohl, at least for the moment, was theirs.

“Arlandria,” an exercise in dynamics, was rather epic for a four-minute rock song that’s not even a single. “These Days,” which Grohl called his favorite, was another newer standout. The new songs went over as well as the old, although as Grohl noted after polling the crowd, Foo Fighters have upped its number of fans in the past four years. “Where have you been for the last 16 years?” he asked those who had not seen the band live before. He sarcastically moaned about rock stardom and about having people like his band (I couldn’t help but think of Nirvana at that moment) before launching into “Cold Day.”

Despite his apparent glee in the power he held over the crowd, he still came off as a relatable guy, putting on a fun and extremely professional show. Ticket prices weren’t astronomical. T-shirts were $25 (I’ve seen less popular acts sell them at The Fillmore for $40). And Grohl was funny and open, especially during the solo acoustic encore, when he talked about buying a house near Nags Head with his first Nirvana paycheck. I never noticed the presence of a guitar tech (or really anyone else besides the band on stage) shuffling an impressive collection of axes on and off stage. Grohl played the blue signature model he premiered during the band's 2007 tour for the first nine songs without retuning -- an impressive feat in itself given the workout he gave the instrument. He pulled out a blue Firebird model for the stoner-y intro to “Stacked Actors,” which morphed into a goofy guitar-solos duel between Grohl and guitarist Chris Shiflett.

He promised a long show, and although it wasn’t the 30-plus-song marathon I saw Guns n’ Roses deliver in Greenville last week, it clocked in at the two-hour and 40-minute mark. There were a few surprises. The group revisited its cover of Pink Floyd’s “In the Flesh,” which it did with Roger Waters in September for “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon’s” “The Wall” tribute. It closed its set with “All My Life.” Grohl returned for three solo acoustic numbers: “Wheels,” “Best of You,” and “Times Like These,” each performed on the platform at the far end of the arena. Then “Dear Rosemary,” with the full band, morphed into Tom Petty’s live jam “Breakdown.” But it was “Everlong” -- a song Shinedown guitarist Zach Myers called this generation’s “Stairway to Heaven” last week when covering it at his own show -- that served as the final hurrah.

Set List:

Bridge Burning



My Hero

Learn to Fly

White Limo



Cold Day

Stacked Actors


Monkey Wrench

Let it Die

These Days

This is a Call

In the Flesh

All My Life

Encore -


Best of You

Times Like These

Dear Rosemary




  1. The show was amazing. I wish Social Distortion could have played longer, they indeed sounded great. The Foo's really rocked the house and the show never seemed long. Great venue and great live sound.

  2. I agree that was a very fair and accurate review of the show. I'm curious to know more about what Ms. Devores was referring to when she said this show may not have surpassed the 2007 show here in Charlotte? I was blown away by the live arrangement, Dave's singing and his and Taylor's energy.

  3. I mean it was just as good. The 2007 was also mind blowing. I liked them before the 2007 show, but it made me more of a fan to see them live. I imagine some would say the same of last night's show.

  4. This was an incredible show. These guys get better every time I see them. They were good when they played the Carolina Musicfest on the One by One tour, great on the 2007 show, and superb Tuesday night. I captured some nice vids if you want to check them out.

  5. Courtney, can you tell us more about the opening acts - Social Distortion and The Joy Formidible?

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  7. Social Distortion really sounded like Greenday, I mean they were really similar.

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