Fans got the next best thing to a Nirvana reunion Tuesday night when the band’s three surviving members performed together for the first time since Kurt Cobain passed away. The occasion was the encore for a barely announced, impromptu Foo Fighters concert at Paladino’s, a Tarzana, California dive bar better known for "Live Band Karaoke Every Tuesday" than historic rock events.
The only thing more unlikely than seeing the Foo Fighters play outside an arena was the sight of Krist Novoselic joining former Nirvana tour guitarist/current Foo Fighter Pat Smear and head Foo Dave Grohl onstage. The trio played one song — "Marigold," the non-album b-side of Nirvana’s "Heart-Shaped Box," with Grohl both singing lead and reverting to his Nirvana role behind the drums — to an audience which included Amanda Seyfried, Juliette Lewis, Ryan Phillippe and No Doubt’s Tony Kanal alongside hardcore fans pulled in from the band’s Facebook page. (The full set list appears below.)
The show — which was being filmed for a full-length documentary — was to celebrate the Foo Fighters' finishing up their seventh album, which features Novoselic playing accordion and bass on one track, "I Should Have Known," and production by Butch Vig, who helmed Nirvana’s breakthrough 1991 album Nevermind. The new effort remains untitled, although Grohl indicated from the stage at Paladino’s that he might call it Back + Forth; the band debuted a song by that name from the upcoming spring 2011 release.
"I had the same feeling listening back to this album that I did two decades ago listening to a Nirvana song like 'Lounge Act,'" Grohl said in an interview before the concert at his home studio, where the latest album was recorded — much of it, in fact, in the garage. "It’s even got the same snare sound as Nevermind," Grohl adds. "Butch is good at that."
Of the sessions, Vig explains, "We had three criteria going in: It’s got to be hooky, heavy, and we’re going analog all the way." Accordingly, the new material is being hailed as the heaviest the band has ever committed to tape. The album’s first single "These Days" evokes classic Foo Fighters hits, but layered with startling layers of crunch and fuzz; tracks like "Bridge Burning" and "White Limo," meanwhile, achieve levels of unhinged squall hitherto unreached by the band.
Grohl confirms his latest opus is indeed a ballad-free zone. "When I was writing the riffs for this record, they were getting heavier and heavier," he says. “"There’s something about getting older and taking a right on fuckin' Discharge Avenue rather than turning left on Tom Petty Lane."
Foo Fighters set list, Paladino’s, 12-21-2010:
Times Like These
Back + Forth (song from the new album)
Learn to Fly
White Limo (song from the new album)
For All the Cows
Dear Rosemary (song from the new album)
Skin + Bones
Cold Day in the Sun
Long Road to Ruin
These Days (song from the new album)
Best of You
All My Life
This Is A Call