The Foo Fighters embraced the history of the Ed Sullivan Theater last night in their Live on Letterman webcast, dressing up in suits and broadcasting the first half of their show in black-and-white as a homage to the Beatles’ historic American television debut at the venue. Later in the show, frontman Dave Grohl would self-effacingly quip that they looked like stoners on their way to a court date, but aside from drummer Taylor Hawkins losing his suit jacket midway through the set and Grohl ditching his dress shoes in the final third, the band totally committed to their concept because, well, the Foo Fighters are a very committed band. They ripped through nearly two hours of new and old songs with the fire of young punks and the proficiency of focused professionals.
The first half of the Foos’ set presented their new album Wasting Light in its entirety. This wasn’t just some release-day stunt – a majority of the band’s recent concerts have followed the same format, with a performance of Wasting Light followed by a hit parade of oldies and radio smashes. The band is clearly very confident about their new material – and they should be, as Wasting Light is their best album in years. The new songs really pop in concert, particularly the run of anthemic tunes in the middle of the disc that sound like arena sing-alongs waiting to happen.
Though most of the studio audience seemed only passingly familiar with the Wasting Light songs, the response to numbers like “These Days” and “Walk” was still pretty intense. It was fun to see them play this stuff in an intimate setting, but it’ll probably be even better when they bring it to big festivals and arenas in the coming months. As evidenced by the crowd’s enthusiastic reception for “Everlong,” “All My Life” and “This Is a Call,” Grohl’s music gains a lot from audience participation.