Dave Grohl charged out like a pre-tween hopped up on Code Red, sprinting from corner to corner of the stage, all kinds of jacked up to preach the high holy gospel of RAWK.
"You know why I'm here? Do you know why I came here tonight?" the Foo Fighters frontman growled to a sold-out crowd of 19,500 at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre Wednesday night. "I came here because I f—ing love rock 'n' roll music! That's right! Do you love rock 'n' roll? Do you love rock 'n' roll? DO YOU F—ING LOVE ROCK 'N' ROLL?"
You better if you want any hope of keeping up with Grohl, who kept threatening to play all night long, and in the end came fairly dang close. For more than two hours and 45 minutes, the indefatigable singer kept the crowd on its feet and roaring with a ceaseless stream of giddy F-bombs and rock cranked into the red.
Thirteen years after their last trip to Tampa, the future Rock and Roll Hall of Famers played like they were getting paid by the note, stuffing in as many solos and jam-outs and shred-offs and outros as technically possible, stretching four-minute singles into epic feats of rocksmanship.
"It's been a long-ass time, hasn't it?" Grohl said. "Ladies and gentlemen, let me tell you, we got some making up to do tonight."
For all his unkillable zeal, all his hair-whipping, head-banging intensity, there's no doubting the toll a show like this takes on Grohl. At 49, his voice was in far from peak form; it seemed all he could do to bark out difficult songs like Rope and Breakout and Best of You. A few more years, he deadpanned, and he'd have to drop his act down a key.
But it didn't matter. Grohl's charisma, and that of his fellow Foo Fighters, was unstoppable. The simple act of introducing the band became a more than 20-minute showcase for each member to show off their chops covering Alice Cooper (Under My Wheels, led by guitarist Chris Shiflett), the Ramones (Blitzkrieg Bop, led by Grohl's old Nirvana bandmate Pat Smear on guitar) and Queen (tireless, toothy string-bean drummer Taylor Hawkins, who traded spots with Grohl on Under Pressure, a duet with glam-rock sparkplug Luke Spiller of opening act the Struts). They also threw in a little Grease (You're the One That I Want) and a pretty catchy mash-up of John Lennon's Imagine and Van Halen's Jump, and honestly, this could've been the whole show. It was that good.
The fans, a sea of dads and dad-rock devotees as far as the eye could see, were in hog heaven. One gave Grohl a huge piece of custom art; another an autographed copy of Edgar Winter's They Only Come Out at Night. During Breakout, Grohl asked the crowd to light up the flashes on their smartphones, which is not a new concert trick. But then he turned the stage lights off so those phones could illuminate the stage – and by golly, they actually did.
Grohl, the King Daddy of them all, rewarded their fealty with a steady stream of Foo Fighters classics from the past 24 years – the snarling All My Life and The Pretender, the breakneck Monkey Wrench and This Is a Call, the cometlike Times Like These and Best of You and My Hero. And he made room for their latest album Concrete and Gold, worming cinder-block blues into The Sky Is a Neighborhood and scrapyard-rat funk into Sunday Rain.
"Here's my problem: We got too many f—ing songs," he said. "Here's what we're gonna do: We're gonna play as long as we can until they kick us off the f—ing stage."
That never happened, but they were definitely up against the clock. They dispensed with the whole encore fake-out, but still probably cut a song or two. Some might've traded a couple of those interminable riff-filled wankfests in order to squeeze one more song or two, a Big Me or a Stacked Actors, into the setlist. Because who knows? Could be another decade before we hear them here again.
But when the Foos closed with the anthemic Everlong, a croaking Grohl willing one last scream-along chorus from the crowd, all was forgiven. After nearly three hours, he looked like he still could have charged off the stage into the night like a wolf trying to chase down the moon. This time, every fan would have run along with him.
— Jay Cridlin