Grohl's vision helps keep Foo Fighters on the battlefront

It seems anachronistic to allude to Dave Grohl as the drummer for Nirvana - not because his contributions to that pioneering grunge band weren't significant, but because his post-Nirvana project, Foo Fighters, has enjoyed so much success.

Rather than fade away after Kurt Cobain's 1994 suicide, Grohl traded in his drum kit for a guitar and a microphone and formed a group that gave him an opportunity to deliver aggressive and radio-friendly pop-punk. In short order, he grew into a nice, hard-working, multi-talented man, and in comical video clips, he wore lipstick, fought off a dog or flashed his got-any-gum smile. Foo Fighters scored 3 million-plus-selling CDs.

But several guitar players have been through the Foos in a short career, playing the foil for Grohl's musical whims. In 2001, it seemed doubtful that the band had a future - the guys recorded and scrapped an entire record.

Then they tried again and rediscovered how to rock on "One By One," Foo Fighters' latest gold album.

"We always take the long way," drummer Taylor Hawkins said before the band's sold-out show Wednesday at the Fillmore Auditorium.

"Because of Dave's success with Nirvana, everybody knew who this band was when it started. A lot of times, a band spends the first years honing its chops and direction and vibe. We did that in the public eye instead of in garages or clubs. It took three or four years to where we felt we were in a comfortable place and fit in as friends."

AP The Foo Fighters perform on stage at Medals Plaza in downtown Salt Lake City, Monday, Feb. 11, 2002. The hottest ticket at these Winter Olympics are the nightly concerts at the downtown medals plaza. The group was met with thunderous applause when it took the Fillmore stage and delivered the opening guitar riffs of "All My Life," Grohl's liberating anthem that earned a Grammy this year for best hard rock performance.

The band certainly had enough melodic hits to be playing a bigger arena - "Learn to Fly," an extended version of "My Hero" (complete with an eye-gouging strobe-light display), "This Is a Call," the closing "Everlong" - and Grohl's stage presence and the band's precision attack filled the stage. The Foos also played new material from "One By One" in their 100-minute set - "Times Like These," the churning "Low."

The supporting players, including a shirtless Hawkins, had a chance to shine.

"I don't want to turn into the Dave Navarro of drums. But it feels more comfortable - I sweat my ass off, so I take my shirt off."

It's pretty hard to fault players as manifestly zealous as Grohl and his outfit.

"There are certain people who are fuckin' rockers - they can't imagine life without it," Taylor said. "People who are passionate about what they do, and really love the sound of loud guitars, and get off on the audience.

"I said to Dave, it's going to be funny to watch him when he's 55 or 60, with his big beer gut, still bashing his heart out."

return to Hawkins' Poor Brain