Sore throat? No big deal. Foo Fighters still ripped for almost three hours in Des Moines.
In the debut episode of the "Dave's Old Interview Tapes" podcast, Dave Grohl wonders in 2000 about talk-show giants who love his band. Radio personality Laura Steele joins host David Lindquist. David Lindquist / IndyStar
Dave Grohl isn’t going to let a sore throat slow him down.
“I don’t know if you remember, but I’m the guy that broke his (expletive) leg and continued playing a show,” the Foo Fighters frontman bellowed from the Wells Fargo Arena stage Friday night, donning an exceptionally raspy voice.
Four songs into what would be a nearly three-hour show, he continued: “So there’s no (expletive) way I’m canceling this show because my (expletive) voice is hoarse. There’s no (expletive) way that's gonna happen. So what I need you to do is sing as loud as you can.”
Battling what Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins described as “basically, Laryngitis,” Grohl and his band laid a foot on the gas. They plowed into the evening’s next track: “The Sky Is A Neighborhood,” the second of what would be four numbers performed from “Concrete and Gold,” the group’s top-charting ninth studio album that debuted in September.
It was the fifth in a 24-song set from Foo Fighters; a night filled with twists and turns that fans welcomed with adulation — each simply pleased to be along for the ride. Drawing an estimated 14,000 people, the show marked the first Foo Fighters gig in Iowa’s capital city.
“Twenty-two (expletive) years,” Grohl said, early in the set. “This is the first time we played Des Moines, Iowa. ... So we’re gonna do as many songs as we can. We’re gonna play as long as we (expletive) can. I’m gonna sing as hard as I (expletive) can.”
It’s times like these … we learn to sing for Dave: Grohl’s vocal prowess shifted with each song. There were moments — such as early set softie “Learn To Fly" — where Grohl’s clear vocal fatigue could not compete with the notes fans know from the record. And then there were songs — such as 2014’s “Congregation” and 1999’s “Breakout” — that played right into the magnified rasp.
Still, through the entire performance, fans obliged Grohl’s early-show command of helping him through the set. They screamed with approval during extended takes of “Rope” and “The Pretender;” they echoed familiar phrases as Grohl led stripped down choruses of “My Hero” and “Times Like These.”
They embraced Grohl’s passion to entertain each and every one of them to the point where he might not be able to speak Saturday… and lauded him for it every chance they were given.
No moment of support was more clear than during the bridge of 2012’s “These Days,” when Grohl paused mid-riff to subtly laugh at a missed note. An ovation of encouragement followed.
“You guys are too (expletive) nice,” he said before leading the band through the last chorus. “I’m trying as hard as I (expletive) can right now.”
It’s times like these … you have your bandmates' help: The battle of Grohl vs. his voice made for a show that — the 48-year-old himself admitted — would go down in Foo Fighters' lore.
“This is one of those shows,” he jested at one point. “Like, ‘(expletive), remember Des Moines?' Like, ‘Oh, (expletive), yeah, I remember that show.’”
Fans saw guitarist Chris Shiflett take lead vocals on a cover of Alice Cooper’s “Under My Wheels” before later experiencing Hawkins take center stage, with Grohl behind the drums, for a cover of Queen and David Bowie’s “Under Pressure.”
A cover medley featured snippets of the Ramones and Van Halen and Queen. Hawkins also took lead vocals on “Sunday Rain,” one of the band’s latest numbers.
“This is unlike any show we’ve ever done and I'll tell you why,” Grohl proclaimed. “Because Taylor (Hawkins) knows that my (expletive) voice is thrashed, so he’s singing along with me for every (expletive) song.”
Hawkins joked: “I don’t know all the words, but I’m trying.”
The band closed the initial set with a back-to-back-to-back showing of head-banging staple “Monkey Wrench,” impassioned Tom Petty tribute “Breakdown” and “Best of You.”
It’s times like these … we want to see again: Foo Fighters brought a three-song encore to the arena, starting with 2017 heavyweight “Dirty Water,” which then turned to a ripping cover of AC/DC classic “Let There Be Rock.”
From the Aussie rock tribute, Grohl and company moved on to what would be the night’s end, “Everlong.”
Strumming the opening notes of the song, he said: “Now that we know you’re here, maybe we’ll come back sometime. ... I think that would be cool. So, I don’t even have to say ‘goodbye,’ because I know that we’ll see you again someday.”
The first chords of “Everlong” silenced the show’s chaos the way only few exceptional songs have the ability to do. Grohl’s torn voice carried the words “Gotta promise not to stop …” and all that seemed to matter was embracing every second of the night’s last moment.
The thousands watching can only hope “someday,” as Grohl said, comes soon. Waiting another two decades for the follow-up just doesn’t seem fair.
Foo Fighters' Des Moines setlist:
- All My Life
- Learn To Fly
- The Pretender
- The Sky is a Neighborhood
- Rope (extended with drum solo)
- Sunday Rain
- My Hero
- These Days
- Under My Wheels (Alice Cooper cover)
- Medley: Jump (Van Halen cover)/Another One Bites The Dust (Queen cover)/Blitzkrieg Bop (Ramones cover)
- Big Me
- Times Like These
- This Is A Call
- Under Pressure (Queen plus David Bowie cover)
- Monkey Wrench
- Breakdown (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers cover)
- Best of You
- Dirty Water
- Let There Be Rock (AC/DC cover)