We already knew that the Foo Fighters were returning to perform in the cities that inspired their soon-to-be-released Sonic Highways album, but their two-and-a-half hour set to close down New Orleans' Voodoo Music Fest 2014 will be hard to top. The show was not only a career retrospective, but also an exciting demonstration of the band embracing new sounds.
Once the set began, Dave Grohl ran up to his microphone and let loose one of his signature blood-curdling screams before the Foos launched into fan favorites "All My Life" and "I'll Stick Around." That kickoff yelp might have scared the sound technicians who unfortunately had Grohl's vocals almost always too soft within the mix of three guitarists (Grohl, Chris Shiflett and Pat Smear) along with Taylor Hawkins' bombastic percussion. Still, the crowd could hear Grohl's yells and shrieks clearly—and he delivered most of the songs' choruses in a similar, forceful delivery.
But for a set that covered nearly all of the Foo classics (along with what's sure to be a future classic, Sonic Highways' lead single "Something From Nothing"), the audience didn't necessarily even need all of Grohl's vocals present. When the 45-year-old rock star would tell the audience to sing along on numbers like "My Hero" and "Learn to Fly," you could actually hear everyone singing, even over the thunderous production.
Throughout the showcase, Grohl & Co. made it clear how stoked they were to return to New Orleans. (For Sonic Highways, the band had recorded tracks in eight iconic American music cities. Read our Complete Guide to the album here.) While detailing the album's multi-city journey to the crowd, Grohl said, "Ask anyone in this band, the city that stood out the most, and we had the best time in, by far, was New Orleans." He included anecdotes about how he was convinced by three "old ladies" in the French Quarter to drink a "mind eraser" before tonight's show and how they had recorded a demo with Preservation Hall Jazz Band at a small, local concert hall.
The latter story led to him introducing his "new friend" Trombone Shorty—who had incidentally just finished his own set on the same stage less than an hour earlier. The instrumentalist came out to perform a dynamic trombone solo in the middle of an extended instrumental interlude of the band's debut single "This Is a Call." Grohl head banged and rocked out on his guitar nearby. Then the musicians concluded the onstage collabo with a smiley hug.
Grohl has previously revealed that Sonic Highways' NOLA-inspired cut "In the Clear" is the first time the band has utilized horns on a track, while adding that "it's still a Foo Fighters song." So the Trombone Shorty interlude could very well be an (awesome) indication of what to expect when the track drops in full. Watch fan footage of the performance below:
"After 20 years, you get to do the stuff that feels right and do things that you'll remember for the rest of your life," Grohl told the audience. "That's what just happened with Trombone Shorty."
And after 20 years, the Foo Fighters' closing set at Voodoo 2014 proved the act is revitalizing their formula with new inspirations while, of course, still catering to the listeners who have been with them since Day 1.