Early on Thursday, Grohl paused the show to talk — he pauses the show to talk about 900 times — and discovered that someone in the pit was celebrating a birthday. “You’re 41?” he said, waiting a beat. “That’s my target demographic!”
Again, if all this all sounds like the height of paternal wankery, you are excused to go read a listicle. Whatever your definition of dad-rock — “Ride Like the Wind,” pretty much all of Wilco since 2008, Springsteen singing with Billy Joel at Madison Square Garden or, in my case, Barry Manilow (sorry, Dad) — it must be reoriented to include the Foo Fighters, who performed Thursday night at a sold-out Ruoff Home Mortgage Music Center (Real Dads still call it Deer Creek) for the first time since August of 2015. That was the show in which Grohl, recovering from an ugly stage tumble, was forced to perform while seated on an imposing rock throne — which he’d go on to donate to Axl Rose when the GNR frontman suffered his own aging-frontman orthopedic issues.
That show felt a little punchier, where Thursday night’s show, for all its force, seemed to operate on a more measured pace. “Sunday Rain,” the well-aged thrasher “Breakout” and “One of These Days” got extended, occasionally meandering outros that made it feel like a jam-band situation. And technically, they’re still touring behind their 2017 record “Concrete and Gold,” which meant new songs like the zingy “Run” and the jazzy little number “Dirty Water.”
Mostly, Grohl kept graciously throwing it to the many of us in the old-school, joyously oblivious to how most of us had to work today. “All My Life,” “Learn to Fly” and “The Pretender” to open, and a slowed, partly solo version of “My Hero” so we could all sing along. An Alice Cooper cover (“Under My Wheels”) and a Queen cover with Dr Frank N. Furter doppelganger Luke Spiller of opening band The Struts, who appears to have been forged from glitter and body-fat deficits in a British frontman factory, and kills it anyway. And if anyone in 2018 comes up with a more satisfying encore than “Times Like These,” “This is a Call,” and “Everlong,” I’ll paint happy faces on my Odyssey.
Every last second is designed for maximum crowd approval, and it never gets less weird to think that a band born from the ashes of the pugnacious Nirvana has turned into a ceaselessly reliable outfit whose frontman stops a song cold to encourage folks to check out the full moon. “It’s my job to bring the party to everyone out there,” using a lot more bad words but otherwise sounding like an enthusiastic dad, except that none of us other 43-year-old minivan-driving mother**kers can maintain the throat-shredding stability for as long as Grohl has. The rest of us will just have to settle for rock shows and cool vans.
Foo Fighters Setlist:
“All My Life”
“Learn to Fly”
“The Sky is a Neighborhood”
“Under My Wheels” (Alice Cooper cover)
“Another One Bites the Dust “ (Queen cover, snippet)
“Blitzkrieg Bop” (Ramones cover, snippet)
“Under Pressure” (Queen cover, with Luke Spiller of the Struts)
“Best of You”
“Times Like These”
“This is a Call”