A Magical Night with the Foo Fighters and Friends
When the Foo Fighters took the stage just after 8:30 on Saturday night, no one knew they were about to witness one of the greatest all-star performances ever. Earlier in the week, the Foo Fighters sent out a couple of teaser posts on social media about something going on for Saturday night, and even posted videos from bands like Kiss and Van Halen. When tickets went on sale a few days before this epic Saturday night performance, I could tell that those in attendance would be treated to something special and I knew I had to be there. The event, billed as ‘Dave’s Rock N’ Roll Club,’ was a celebration of Dave Grohl’s 46th birthday.
The band performed in the round with a long catwalk leading to one end of the arena. The stage rotated throughout the performances so that everyone got a chance to see the band play in front of them. When the Foos took the stage, Dave Grohl let the audience know that this wouldn’t be a normal Foo Fighters show because he had invited a number of friends to join him throughout the evening. He then called for Paul Stanley to join him and the band. Stanley, appearing at the beginning of the catwalk, made the journey to join the band in the center of the arena. The crowd went crazy when he was announced and we knew that, if this is how you kick off the start of a show, it’s going to be one hell of a night. It was recently announced that Paul Stanley was back with Ibanez guitars and he was promptly handed his signature cracked mirror Iceman and the show started with a bang. They played Detroit Rock City and Do You Love Me. The energy in the Forum was frenetic and this was the start of a truly special night. Paul Stanley left after those two songs and with much fanfare. The Foo Fighters played some of their own songs including All My Life and The Pretender. The formula for the night was that played anywhere from 2-4 songs and then called out another special guest to join them.
After finishing with a crowd participatory version of My Hero, Dave called Jack Black and Kyle Gass from Tenacious D, and Slash to join them on stage. The crowd again lost their minds. Jack took the mic and began to sing Happy Birthday to Dave as hundreds of various sized, multi-colored balloons were released from above the stage. Then the band started playing Queen’s Tie Your Mother Down and that led into The Immigrant Song from Led Zeppelin. Slash, with a cherry burst Les Paul in hand, ripped through the song’s solo as Jack and Kyle bookended him to witness in awe, much like the rest of the crowd. As the night went on, there were balloon fragments scattered all over stage. After a round of hugs, this group of guests marched on down the catwalk to the roar of the crowd. Normally, these surprise guests and the selection of songs would be enough to consider the night a success, but there were still many more great artists waiting to wish Dave well and dazzle the crowd.
The band went on to play Congregation from their newest release, Sonic Highways and Walk from 2011’s Wasting Light. It was now time for another guest announcement. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one racking my brain with guesses as to who he would announce next. I didn’t expect him to bring out Alice Cooper. What? Alice Cooper!? When he got to the stage, Dave started playing the opening notes to School’s Out on his signature Gibson 335. The next song they played was I’m Eighteen and I can verify that not only does Alice Cooper still have it, he never lost it. His voiced sounded great and he was able to command the stage like he had been up there the whole time and not just for the past ten minutes. With the crowd still going crazy for Alice’s performance, the band played Cold Day in the Sun with Taylor Hawkins on vocals and a lengthy version of Monkey Wrench with the crowd using their cellphones to light up the arena.
Dave then asked Nick Oliveri, of Queens of the Stone Age fame, to join him on the Roky Erickson song Two Headed Dog. Nick just did one song with the band and they went on to play Learn to Fly, White Limo, and Arlandria. While it seemed like the casual fans weren’t as familiar with the last two songs, they still got into them. The next guest was probably my favorite of the evening. Dave brought out Zakk Wylde, who is currently on tour back east, to play a couple of Black Sabbath songs with him and Taylor. Dave stated that he and Zakk share the same birthday and I think that added to overall magic of this performance. Dave, on bass, did a great job holding down the low end while Zakk handled the guitar and vocal duties. They played N.I.B. and Fairies Wear Boots. Their performance was phenomenal and I would love to see this trio jam again.
The band then played Times Like These and Outside. The latter is also from Sonic Highways and features a great solo from Joe Walsh. I was hoping that he would be in attendance, but he wasn’t and Dave handled the solo on the song. There have been some initial reports that he and Perry Farrell played a couple of songs together, but that did not happen. Perry did come sprinting down the catwalk to perform a rousing version of the Jane’s Addiction classic, Mountain Song. The band, with Perry still on vocals began to play Miss You by the Rolling Stones. There was some initial confusion as to who would handle the vocals between Taylor and Perry, but they got it sorted out and did a decent version of the song.
After they finished and Perry sprinted back down the catwalk, the band played Something from Nothing, another one from Sonic Highways. They followed that with the first song he ever wrote for the Foo Fighters, This is a Call. It’s hard to believe that song was released twenty years ago and that the band has been around that long. Dave joked that this is the longest job he has had and hopes not to get fired. Dave invited another friend to the stage and this time it was Trombone Shorty. He came out with his horn in hand and did a little call and response with Dave and the rest of the band. Then he put his circular breathing on display and wowed everyone with his ability to hold and sustain the note he was playing. It was very clear that Dave was impressed with Trombone Shorty and his remarkable talent.
The band played crowd favorite Best of You and then came the guest that Dave had described as one off of his bucket list. He said that he had called everyone he knew to be a part of this evening, and one person that he didn’t know. This person is someone who he wasn’t sure he could get, but always wanted to perform with. The spotlight shined on the other end of the arena at the entrance to the catwalk as David Lee Roth is announced. He is still full of energy, bravado, and the occasional leg kick. They did highly energized performances of Panama and Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love. This was a definite highlight for me and it was clear that the band was really enjoying this opportunity as well. The applause and roar of the crowd continued well after DLR left the stage and bled into the next song as they played Everlong.
The final song of the evening was the Chuck Berry song Let it Rock selected by none other than Lemmy from Motorhead. I probably could’ve just written Lemmy and you would know who I was talking about. Zakk Wylde and Slash joined him on stage and they took turns adding their own touches to this classic song. Lemmy has had some medical problems in recent years and he looked to be frail and possibly still recovering. He had to be helped up the stairs on stage, but once the song started, he seemed to be himself.
This was a fantastic night and a show for the ages. This felt like a jam session that would happen after a Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame induction. It may have been a celebration for Dave Grohl’s birthday, but it felt like we were all given a gift that night.