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Originally published Thursday, July 10, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Foo Fighters bring arena-rock party home to Seattle

Foo Fighters, the Seattle-born rock 'n' roll party band of Dave Grohl, Nate Mendel, Taylor Hawkins and Chris Shiflett, played a July 9 show to a packed house at KeyArena; concert review by Patrick MacDonald.

Seattle Times music critic

Concert Review |

After 13 years, Foo Fighters have found their place in the sun. It's their time to shine. Dave Grohl and company have reached the pinnacle of arena-rock success, and they're reveling in it.

Their packed, powerful show Wednesday night at KeyArena was a full-on, state-of-the-art, pull-out-all-the-stops, rock 'n' roll summertime party, with all the lights and video screens and screaming fans and the whole nine.

There was an almost ritualistic familiarity to it all. Monstrous stage. Check. Long catwalks for the lead singer (Grohl) to run up and down. Check. Satellite stage for the semi-acoustic set. Check. Audience singalongs. Check. Drum solo. Check. Two-and-a-half freakin' hours of music. Check.

There was a well-deserved nod to one of the originators of the genre, the Who, who set the arena-rock performance standard 40 years ago. The band's "Young Man Blues" was one of the highlights of the set, a tight, hard-driving, explosive version that showed angry-young-man lyrics are still relevant.

The Foo's song "Stacked Actors," with some of Grohl's most evocative, mysterious lyrics, reached the same level of intensity, and so did the hard-driving workout "Monkey Wrench." The double-guitar attack of "Generator" — with Grohl and Chris Shiflett trading fast-moving solos — showed how much the Foo Fighters have grown.

But perhaps their finest moment, the song that involved everyone in the crowd, was the anthemic "My Hero," which may or may not be about Kurt Cobain (Grohl has been coy about that). Grohl talked about living in Tacoma, Olympia and West Seattle, and sang "Aurora," a song about the avenue, but never said he was Nirvana's drummer, and never mentioned Cobain's name. It's ironic that Grohl is now in the kind of band Cobain hated — a commercial arena-rock-star band — but he's just being true to himself.

The drum solo was worth listening to because Taylor Hawkins is one of the best in the business. He was impressive all night. The four Foos (including bass player Nate Mendel) were joined at various times by four other musicians, including a keyboardist, a percussionist, a fiddler/cellist, and frequent guitar compatriot Pat Smear (who also sometimes sat in with Nirvana).

Supergrass and Minus the Bear opened the show.

Patrick MacDonald: 206-464-2312 or pmacdonald@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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