BY MELISSA RUGGIERI/AJC Music Scene
(This review was originally posted at 2:04 a.m. April 29, 2018)
With a blast of guitar fuzz and his chestnut mane flying behind him, Dave Grohl zipped down a catwalk running nearly the length of the Georgia State Stadium floor as the rest of the Foo Fighters burst into the new song, “Run,” behind him.
For the next hour, Grohl barely stopped for a breath – he apologized later for not taking time to properly greet the crowd of 31,000 – as he doused himself in water, prowled the stage with his blue Gibson and thrashed his hair, head and body.
Put a Fitbit on this maniac – God love him! – and watch the numbers spiral.
Grohl and the Foos brought a wallop of stadium rock to inaugurate the recently converted Turner Field Saturday night, and with caffeinated openers The Struts, delivered more than four hours of unabashed fun.
As a concert location, Georgia State Stadium was a mixed experience. The concession offerings were meh and the four lighting poles installed for football games block too many sections, rendering them empty and useless. But the sound was remarkably solid, even in the upper levels, which is also testament to a Foo Fighters team that extracted clarity while keeping the volume turned to 11 all night.
The last time the Foo Fighters visited Atlanta, in 2015 at Centennial Olympic Park, Grohl had recently injured his leg on tour and was bound to a customized throne.
As crazily as he bounced through that performance, it was still a welcome jolt to again experience ambulatory Grohl, who slathered his rock howl over “All My Life” (and injected some “Cat Scratch Fever” riffs into the song) before seguing into the mellifluous “Learn to Fly” – in an instant showcasing the diversity of the band’s sound and his vocal ability.
RELATED>> Check out our photo gallery from the Foo Fighters/Struts concert at Georgia State University
It’s easy to forget that the Foo Fighters are nearing their quarter-century anniversary, which, as Grohl reminded, requires at least the three hours they provided onstage to hammer through most of their catalog.
While the set list didn’t neglect rock radio favorites including the grab-‘em-by-the-throat boldness of “The Pretender” and a gently escalating “My Hero,” it also highlighted a few songs from the band’s latest album, “Concrete and Gold,” such as the slinky blues-rock of “The Sky is a Neighborhood” and “Sunday Rain,” with drummer Taylor Hawkins on lead vocals.
Speaking of the Superman sticksman – decked out for the occasion in his Clermont Lounge muscle T – he and Grohl engaged in a guitar/drum call-and-response bit that illustrated not only their musical acumen, but an amusing rapport created from two decades of playing together. Kudos also to the video team for their rapid-fire editing on the three massive screens spread across the stage.
Likewise, Hawkins’ drum solo was a master class of speed, agility and dedication to drumming dynamics that deserved its ovation.
While a Foo Fighters show is always noteworthy for its taut musicianship – Grohl joked that, “We have so many people in this band now, we make Slipknot look like Simon and Garfunkel” – it’s also spiked with self-deprecation.
As usual, the band introductions were a show highlight, with guitarist Chris Shiflett diving into Alice Cooper’s “Under My Wheels”; bassist Nate Mendel laying down the groove of “You’re the One That I Want” from “Grease” and Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust”; newly official member Rami Jaffee providing the iconic piano of John Lennon’s “Imagine” while Grohl sang the lyrics to Van Halen’s “Jump” over it; and Grohl’s longtime buddy from the Nirvana era, guitarist Pat Smear, grinding through The Ramones’ “Blitzkrieg Bop.”
Following that funfest with a solid take of Queen’s “Under Pressure,” with Grohl back behind the drum kit and Hawkins sharing lead vocals with The Struts’ frontman Luke Spiller (who unleashed a perfect Freddie Mercury-esque vocal), only escalated the exuberance.
The Foo Fighters still had plenty to reveal – a guttural “Monkey Wrench” and “This is a Call” among the selections in the last chunk of the show – and while they’re a roaring punch of a band, it’s all thanks to 49-year-old Grohl – a sweaty, hair-flipping, gum-chomping, MF-spouting rock ‘n’ roll prophet.
Choosing The Struts to open a series of shows was as brilliant a move for the Foos as it was an opportunity for the hotshot British quartet.
Singer Spiller is a dynamic leader – with a multi-octave voice to match – who had the crowd (and a sizeable portion at that at 7 p.m.) obliging from the first notes of “Put Your Hands Up.”
Pointing, preening and peacock-walking around the stage in his black and red fringe-and-satin outfit, Spiller was captivating.
He clearly has a blast, and by default, so does the audience.
As Spiller commanded attention, guitarist Adam Slack, bassist Jed Elliott and drummer Gethin Davies provided 40 minutes of airtight guitar rock – call it a masterful blend of Queen, The Sweet and The Darkness – with a catchy arsenal including “These Times are Changing” and the swinging thump and sweet harmonies of “The Ol’ Switcheroo.”
The Struts are readying their second album for release this year and offered a peek with the new “Primadonna Like Me,” which featured Spiller’s trademark rolled “r”’s, a massive chorus and cowbell.
It doesn’t fall far from their earlier work, such as the stomp-and-clappers “Put Your Money on Me” and set-closer “Where Did She Go.” But The Struts deliver with such panache, you can’t help but fall in love.
And as Spiller so aptly remarked to the crowd, “Isn’t it about time that rock ‘n’ roll was fun again?”