The last time Foo Fighters played Wrigley Field, Dave Grohl was confined to an oversized throne due to a broken leg. When the band returned July 29, Grohl was unfettered and all over the stage. The band tore through a career spanning a set of 22 songs and one suspects had there been no curfew they would have kept going. Based on the show at The Metro they played last time I saw them, this is no exaggeration.
It was a joyous set, light on the guest appearances and heavy on the long jams. Familiar songs were deconstructed and rebuilt—the rework of “My Hero” as a solo endeavor until the triumphant bridge was particularly effective—and at this point it’s no surprise that the band works as a single, telepathic unit. And while Grohl is certainly the frontman, this is one of the rare massive arena acts that feels like they’re just at home in the garage taking cues from each other and sharing the lead. There’s a reason Foo Fighters are arguably the biggest working rock band in the world today. Their humble love of music can’t help but unspool into songs that bubble with grand ambition.
Opening act The Struts displayed the same oversized abandon as they tore through their own set earlier in the evening. Lead singer Luke Spiller channeled the spirit of Freddy Mercury as his mates created a squall of hyper-massive hooks and stomping sing-along choruses. The crowd was left aching for more after the group’s brief eight-song set, one that included a peek at new music from their forthcoming album, and it was easy to see why they are Grohl’s favorite opening band of all time. And they remain one of my favorite modern bands right now. (They return to Chicago to play House of Blues November 23 and 24 and you would be a fool not to snap up tickets now.)
The vibrancy of both acts got me to thinking about the perennial exclamation that “rock is dead.” Is rock ruling the charts? Hell no, but what does that matter? Rock is alive and well, on both the global and local scale. Hell, take a look at any week of listings in Chicago and you’ll see dozens of great rock bands are playing nightly, creating music that isn’t stuck in the past, but instead is mapping the way to the future.
Long live rock.