October 15, 2011
The LA Forum
Inglewood, CA USA
Review by Scott Dworkin
Photos by Scott Dworkin
Let's face it, in most concert reviews you read about the Foo Fighters, the same information reappears time and time again. You're given the obligatory history of the band, its founder David Grohl, and oh yeah, let's not forget to mention that "other" band he used to be in. The thing is, none of these journalists ever have to pay for the review tickets they are given. It's done as a courtesy by publicists as a way to ensure coverage of the band. For this particular Foo Fighters show, however, I decided to do something completely contrary to popular reviewer policy - pay for my concert ticket. I wanted to know if this band was actually worth the price of admission.
In a city that has an average of at least one major arena concert per week, (and who knows how many club shows to choose from on any given day), it's a hard decision for music lovers in Los Angeles to decide where they're going to get the maximum value for their entertainment dollars. What better way to understand the dilemma (and believe me, in L.A. those decisions are indeed tough), than to actually go through the process of plunking down some real money to get into the show. Suddenly, as the money left my hand, my first thought was suddenly, 'this band better be worth it!'
Walking into the venerable Forum, this did indeed seem to be the perfect venue for myself, and thousands of my new-found friends, to gather for tonight's proceedings. This past-its-prime-time landmark was easily transformed into the 'garage-like' setting the Foo Fighters seem to enjoy, at least on this current tour. Because of this building being, well, old, the concert took on a very intimate rock show vibe despite its considerable size.
Tonight, there were no Hollywood stars, luxury boxes and seats miles away from the stage for people inside to contend with. From the back of the arena to the very front row, the crowd seemed to be right there in solidarity with the band. Grohl and company jammed through about three quarters of their latest release, Wasted Light, mixed in with a string of hits. For good measure, they also threw in a couple of cover tunes from by Tom Petty and Pink Floyd. Yes, "In the Flesh" Pink Floyd to be exact.
Grohl and company - which included the rhythm section Nate Mendel on bass and drummer Taylor Hawkins; Pat Smear and Chris Shiflett sharing guitar duties, along with Rami Jaffe on keyboards - tore through an almost three-hour set with energy and vigor. The very fact that these veteran rockers, at this point in their 17-year career, are able to shed the scripted, programmed rock star persona and just play for the pure joy of playing, is remarkable. The Foo Fighters appeared to genuinely love tearing the fabulous Forum apart.
Instead of slowing down as each hour passed, this group of musicians gathered momentum and steam. From a crowd standpoint, I never saw the band's energy level drop off. At one point during the evening, Grohl even made a point of saying everyone on stage considered Los Angeles a hometown show. You could tell it really meant something for this group to be the best they could be. The way they were jamming on stage this night, no one would argue they felt comfortable. And did I mention the incredible seven-song encore?
The bottom line for me, as a paying customer, was simply this. Did I receive the bang for my hard-earned bucks tonight from the Foo Fighters? I'm happy to report that in 'times like these', I couldn't have been happier with my 'pay-to-see-play' decision.
Learn to Fly
Cold Day in the Sun
Let It Die
Skin and Bones
This is a Call
In the Flesh? (Pink Floyd)
All My Life
Long Road to Ruin
Best of You
Times Like These
Miss The Misery
Breakdown (Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers)