Foo Fighters - Live in Atlanta (4/28/2018) (Cover Artwork)

Foo Fighters

Live in Atlanta (4/28/2018) (2018)

live show

The Foo Fighters have stepped up to fill the space left by the recently departed Tom Petty as the sturdiest American stadium rock band. On Saturday April 28th, they brought their classic rock worship to the Georgia State Stadium (a refurbished Turner Field that now hosts Georgia State football). To my ears, Grohl and company sound best when not impeded by a ceiling; an arena show for the Wasting Light tour became muddy under the three guitar cacophony, while their set at Atlanta’s Music Midtown festival in 2012 sounded pristine performed in the spacious Piedmont Park. The occasion for this tour is to support Concrete and Gold, their serviceable new album that (like nearly every subsequent album following The Colour and the Shape) adds a couple of new tracks to the setlist. These reliable additions never really further the band’s sound but do serve to refresh what the band does best: loud guitars and drums always bolstered by Dave Grohl’s sincere desire to rock is and our heart out.

The set kicked off with the whiplash single “Run,” which is a delightful anomaly in that it combines one of the best Foo Fighter power ballads with jarring hardcore screeching verses. The band then plowed into the single chord piledriver “All My Life,” and the next 11 songs anybody could totally guess as entries from the well-trod greatest hits. If these sound like backhanded compliments, that is not my intention, but for the most part the band’s determination to put on a reliable show with a continuous sing-a-long is comforting. I love singing these songs, and I think Dave’s talent for writing stadium rock is underrated. Frankly, who’s left in this genre? Pearl Jam seems to be the only peer that can put on a show with this much audience love. Green Day can be great but also inconsistent. Will this kind of rock and roll continue in the age of Spotify or will everything dive further into niche acts with no big unifiers? Again, I love the Foo Fighters; they are satisfying, comforting, and immensely likeable, they just rarely blow my mind.

However, during band introductions, the group let their individual personalities shine. Chris Shiflett took the lead for Alice Cooper’s “Under My Wheels,” which is a song I haven’t heard in forever and is the best vocal I have ever heard him do. After introducing Rami Jaffee (formerly of the Wallflowers) on keys, Jaffee launched into a beautiful version of “Imagine,” which Dave then juxtaposed with a perfectly matched vocal interpolation of Van Halen’s “Jump” (I was five tall boys deep at this point, so this was hilarious). Pat Smear led a blazing rendition of “Blitzkrieg Bop,” and Taylor Hawkins capped it off with a duet with Luke Spiller from the Struts with a triumphant cover of “Under Pressure” with Dave manning the drums (still his best instrument).

The last part of the set was no less enjoyable. After the band’s members had a chance to shine, the whole ensemble launched into “Monkeywrench,” which has one of the most fun bridges to attempt to sing in one breath (humorously, Dave doesn’t seem to have the lungpower for the single breath take anymore). The show rounded out with early career highlights “This is a Call,” “Big Me,” and “Best of You” before the band departed for the requisite encore. Foo Fighters pulled a Green Day by letting audience member Pierce Edge man the drums for “Big Me,” actually his second time performing with the band this tour as Dave sarcastically noted. However, the band happily obliged him another opportunity to ably assist on the eponymous album track.

If you are even slightly aware of the Foo Fighters, you can be 100% certain with the final song of the evening which continues to maintain its cathartic power after all these years. The Foo Fighters strength is that they have persevered, they consistently deliver a great show packed with familiar songs, and they churn out a reliable new single every few years. There’s plenty of bands from the Alternative Nation that have lost the battle to maintain longevity and relevancy. They are not the most progressive, challenging, or artistic group, but they know and love rock and roll and are eager to engage with their fans. It seems selfish to ask for too much more than that.