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During the Foo Fighters concert at Madison Square Garden last night, you could have easily have forgotten about the past year and a half. The sold-out show felt like pre-COVID times: a packed arena filled with people singing hit after hit along with Dave Grohl and company.

There were some differences of course: you had to show your proof of vaccination at the gate (although security didn’t seem very strict on this). A few protestors who were upset about that rule were marching around outside (with most fans laughing at them). Some fans wore masks inside the arena. And signs announcing “Rock And Roll Returns To The Garden Tonight,” and asking “Are You Ready?” and “Are You F#@%ing Ready?” were all over the venue.

And while the Foo Fighters’ shows are always explosive, there was obviously another energy, a different vibe, at this show. This was the Garden’s first full-capacity event since March of 2020.

Grohl referenced the time away from the stage a few times — “We’ve been waiting for this! Do you want to rock and roll!” — noting that he craved the attention of being on stage. And the enthusiasm of the crowd was obviously greater than usual; there was an added appreciation here. Most of us didn’t know if we’d have this experience again, or when.

While some were speculating a parade of special guests at the concert, there was only one… and it was definitely a surprise: Dave Chappelle (who Grohl called “My favorite Dave”) joined the band for a rendition of Radiohead’s “Creep.”

For the most part, it was a “normal” Foo Fighters show — meaning, one of the top rock and roll bands of the past three decades tearing through nearly three hours of hits, extending some of them with jamming. The band is in a fairly unique position: they’re a few months away from their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction with a new album (Medicine At Midnight ) that fans actually care about. “Making A Fire” and “Shame Shame” went over really well (they also played “No Son Of Mine” and the title track) This was also true of the two songs they played from their last album, 2017’s Concrete And Gold: “Run” and “The Sky Is A Neighborhood.” The Foo Fighters are a band with nothing to prove who keep adding classics to their discography.

The rest of the set was mostly huge radio singles, with a few rarities thrown in (including “Arlandria” and an incredible version of “Aurora”). There was also Taylor Hawkins’ customary lead vocal turn: he sang Queen’s “Someone To Love” and did a surprisingly good job on Freddie Mercury’s vocals. And the band, previewing their “Dee Gees” alias, covered the Bee Gees’ “You Should Be Dancing.” As usual, they ended with “Everlong,” but it hit differently when Grohl yelled, “If everything could ever be this real forever/If anything could ever be this good again!” Hopefully, with more Americans getting vaccinated, things will be this good for a long time.

Setlist:

  • Times Like These
  • The Pretender
  • Learn To Fly
  • No Son of Mine
  • The Sky Is A Neighborhood
  • Shame Shame
  • Rope
  • Run
  • My Hero
  • These Days
  • Medicine At Midnight
  • Walk
  • Somebody To Love
  • Monkey Wrench
  • Arlandria
  • Breakout
  • Creep
  • All My Life
  • Aurora
  • This Is A Call
  • Best Of You
  • Making A Fire
  • You Should Be Dancing
  • Everlong