Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl offered a master class on how to handle adversity Wednesday night at Citi Field, turning his broken leg into a challenge he had to overcome.
Promising at the start of the show to rock "harder in this [expletive] chair" than he did on his feet, Grohl and his fellow Foo Fighters more than delivered over the course of nearly three hours, roaring through hits like "Everlong" and new songs like "Something From Nothing."
Grohl broke his right leg and dislocated his ankle after falling off the stage at a concert in Sweden on June 12, but famously returned to the stage to keep rocking while paramedics applied a cast.
Though the Foos had to cancel the rest of their European tour, they played as scheduled on July Fourth to celebrate their 20th anniversary in Washington's RFK Stadium and plan to continue their current stadium tour. (The band returns to Citi Field for another show Thursday night.)
Grohl performed the show mostly from a specially designed throne that allows him to keep his leg stabilized and elevated. He explained the need for the metal monstrosity, which he designed while still in the hospital, with a slideshow presentation -- complete with Swedish accents, sound effects as he played video of the fall, and a healthy dose of humor.
But the explanation was unnecessary, as he and the band simply used it while rocking harder than ever, clearly enjoying the moment.
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"What happened to rock and rolll" Grohl asked, posing the question that has launched many a blog thinkpiece in recent years, as the genre has been overtaken by hip-hop and even EDM on commercial radio. "I can see it in front of me... If I wasn't in this chair, I'd be down there dancing with y'all right now."
The sight before Grohl was an awesome one - a filled Citi Field, with thousands in front of him packed together in the outfield screaming and head-banging along with him through raging rockers like "All My Life" and "White Limo."
Grohl also took time to show where Foo Fighters fit in the rock pantheon by playing covers that "made us want to play ---- rock and roll when we were kids." That included fine versions of Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers' "Breakdown" and the Queen and David Bowie classic "Under Pressure," with drummer Taylor Hawkins taking on Freddie Mercury's vocals and Grohl handling Bowie's.
After Grohl called the Foos, "the highest-paid cover band" in the world, they also took on a rough version of The Police's "Next to You" and a finale of The Faces' "Stay With Me," which featured Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers on the drums.
The covers gave the second half of the show a looser feel, as if the band was letting 50,000 or so friends in on a private rehearsal. But the enormity of the moment wasn't lost on them either. "This isn't Roseland," Grohl said, referring to the club the band first played in Manhattan. "This makes Madison Square Garden look like a ---- keg party."
As the band's HBO series "Sonic Highways" - which inspired the band's latest album and current tour - showed, the Foo Fighters are now all about finding the connections between the music of the past and the music of the future.
Their show at Citi Field felt like a reinvention of the stadium-filling "Monsters of Rock" shows from the '70s for several new generations.
SETLIST: Everlong / Monkey Wrench / Learn to Fly / Something From Nothing / The Pretender / Up in Arms / Congregation / Walk / Cold Day in the Sun / My Hero (Acoustic) / Times Like These (Acoustic) / Under Pressure / Let There Be Rock / All My Life / These Days / Outside / Breakout / Next to You / This Is a Call / White Limo / Arlandria / Breakdown / Best of You // ENCORE: Stay With Me (w/Chad Smith)