Review: Foo Fighters give Portland a rock history lesson at Moda Center performance

The city of Portland was quiet on Monday night. Parents had to work in the morning and kids had to go to school. But for thousands of die-hard rockers gathered at the Moda Center, the next morning’s responsibilities were out of sight and out of mind. As Foo Fighters lead …

The city of Portland was quiet on Monday night. Parents had to work in the morning and kids had to go to school. But for thousands of die-hard rockers gathered at the Moda Center, the next morning’s responsibilities were out of sight and out of mind.

As Foo Fighters lead singer Dave Grohl put it, those in attendance were in for “a good ol’ fashion night of rock N roll.”

Before Grohl and his Foo Fighters took the stage, though, Welsh alt-rockers The Joy Formidable kicked the night off at 7:30 p.m. The three piece’s performance was highlighted by long instrumental jams as well as powerful, intricate vocal layering.

The trio’s performance was quick hitting and filled with the exact type of energy an opening act should provide for rock legends such as the Foos.

The band ended their 40-minute set with its radio hit-single, “Whirring,” receiving an overwhelmingly positive reaction from the filling-in Moda Center crowd.

The band jotted off stage and the Foo Fighters’ elaborate production setup commenced.

By the time the stage crew finished, the stage was equipped with a mobile, diamond-shaped LED screen. Throughout the night, the screen would rotate from behind the band to hovering over its members.   

The Joy Formidable opens the night for the Foo Fighters on their Concrete and Gold Tour in Portland, Ore. on Sept. 10, 2018. (Henry Ward/Emerald)

Just after 8:45, the house lights dimmed and the audience’s anticipation reached its climax. Then, in an honest exuberance, Grohl ran on stage and continued to rally the crowd up. Portland Timbers goalkeeper Jake Gleeson, defender Zarek Valentin and retired defender Nat Borchers were among those in attendance.

The other band members joined their frontman on stage and stage techs provided each musician’s weapon of choice. For Grohl, it was his famous Pelham Blue Gibson DG-335, which glistened in the shining Moda Center lights.

After breezing through their first three songs of the night with great energy, Grohl reminded the audience that the Foo’s were “just getting warmed up.”

During the band’s performance of “Rope,” Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins took off—quite literally—into the sky on a hydraulic lift that carried his drums 15 feet above the stage.

While elevated, Hawkins performed a  five-minute drum solo that Grohl watched in admiration from stage right. Hawkins then sang lead vocals on “Sunday Rain” from the band’s latest album “Concrete and Gold.”

Following Hawkin’s stellar showing, Grohl took some time to address the older crowd members.

Taylor Hawkins jamming out on the drums. Every member of the group eventually got their own solo as the set went on. Foo Fighters rock the Moda Center in Portland, Ore. on Sept. 10, 2018. (Henry Ward/Emerald)

“I don’t know how many of you know this, but the Foo Fighters played their first show [in Portland],” Grohl said. “It was at a place called The Satyricon.”

Then Grohl shifted his attention to the younger audience, focused on educating them on rock history.

“Who’s never seen us before?” Grohl said, greeted by a minority of cheers from the Moda Center. “That’s cool. Well, check this fucking shit out.”

The Foo Fighters went on to perform its classic hits “Hero” and “These Days,” before going into individual band introductions. Each member gave a brief lead performance when Grohl introduced them to the crowd.

Guitarist Chris Shiflett’s shredding solo on Alice Cooper’s “Under My Wheels” and Hawkins’ vocals on Queen’s “Under Pressure,” which Grohl performed on drums, stole that portion of the show.

After quickly exiting the stage following a passionate rendition of “Best Of You,” Grohl and Hawkins appeared on the stage screens. The two acted as if to argue about how many more songs they should play.

With help from the audience, they finally settled on performing three more tracks.

The crowd erupted as the Foo Fighters took the stage again, continuing its rock history lesson by covering The Who, Tom Petty and AC/DC.

“I’d like to thank you for tonight, and thank you for being the first city we ever played in,” Grohl said before ending the performance. “I don’t like to say goodbye, so I like to say this…”

“If everything could ever feel this real forever/If anything could ever be this good again,” Grohl sang. “The only thing I’ll ever ask of you/You’ve got to promise not to stop when I say when.”

Photos: Foo Fighters Rock the Moda Center


  1. All My Life
  2. Learn To Fly
  3. The Pretender
  4. The Sky Is A Neighborhood
  5. Rope
  6. Sunday Rain
  7. My Hero
  8. These Days
  9. Walk
  10. Under My Wheels  (Alice Cooper cover)
  11. Another One Bites The Dust (Queen Cover)
  12. Imagine piano riff with Jump lyrics (Van Halen and The Beatles cover)
  13. Blitzkrieg Bop (Ramones cover)
  14. Under Pressure (Queen cover sung by Taylor Hawkins)
  15. Monkey Wrench
  16. Run
  17. Breakout
  18. Dirty Water
  19. Best Of You


  1. Young Man Blues (The Who cover)
  2. Breakdown (Tom Petty cover)
  3. Let There Be Rock (AC/DC cover)
  4. Everlong

Editor in Chief - Daily Emerald

Zach is the Editor in Chief of the Daily Emerald newsroom. In his spare time, he enjoys watching the Portland Trail Blazers games.

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