Sound City Players

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author IM date 19/02/13 venue Forum, London, UK

Dave Grohl’s side projects have always prompted rather a lot of interest and The Sound City Players’ one off gig in London was no exception, with 2,300 highly expectant fans crammed into Kentish Town’s The Forum.

The Sound City Players are Grohl’s latest supergroup and a celebration of the recently closed Sound City Studios in Van Nuys, California, the subject of Grohl’s recent foray into film directing. This musical collaboration has involved industrial metal veteran Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age, Rick Springfield, Stevie Nicks, Paul McCartney, along with others, who also appeared in Grohl’s film, which received a standing ovation at the Sundance Film Festival. Grohl and band mates, including Nicks on lead vocals, recently appeared on the Late Night with David Letterman show on February 14, 2013.

Tickets for the one time only London show sold out within minutes, having been announced only four days prior. Secrecy surrounded the live performance’s lineup, with the identities of the musicians accompanying Grohl shrouded in mystery.

The tension of anticipation broke as Grohl walked onto stage, instantly recognisable by his black mop of hair and beard, carrying his blue Gibson 335. The Sound City Players opened with Queens of the Stone Age’s Alain (‘Al’) Johannes, performing “A Trick With No Sleeve,” followed by covers of Eleven’s “Why” and “All My Friends” followed by QOTSA’s “Hangin' Tree.”

The next special guest was Masters of Reality’s Chris Goss, playing Masters of Reality covers such as “She Got Me,” “It’s Shit,” and “The Blue Garden.”

Grohl spoke profusely of his love of the band Fear, relating a story from his youth, reminiscing about the first time he met Lee Ving and Pat Smear, during which they listened to Black Flag and Dead Kennedy records. A spate of punk songs followed, with Fear’s Ving and Smear of the Foo Fighters, Nirvana and the Meat Puppets, performing several Fear covers.

The musicians appeared to be more than enjoying themselves, punctuating their show at spontaneous intervals with ‘humorous’ banter and lobbing guitar picks at each other as they chased one another around the stage.

For 63, Rick Springfield still wields a mean axe. The ‘popular’ Australian singer song writer joked with Grohl, before bursting into renditions of the songs he had penned himself, such as “Love Somebody” and “Jessie’s Girl.” His anonymity in Europe was somewhat demonstrated by the murmur of the muttering crowd whispering and shaking their heads at the sight of him. Perhaps he is a bigger star in Australia than Europe.

Interestingly, despite having former Nirvana members Krist Novoselic and Pat Smear in tow, the word ‘Nirvana’ wasn’t mentioned once. Grohl unsurprisingly proclaimed, with great enthusiasm, that ‘the Foo Fighters are the best band ever.’ He chatted relentlessly between songs and informed his eager audience that Sound City was ‘the coolest studio ever’ but ‘a shit hole.’

For the finale Grohl returned with a Gibson Firebird Studio, to rapturous applause. What followed was the closest thing in a while to a Nirvana get together. Krist Novoselic and Pat Smear, accompanied by Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick performed a sequence of Cheap Trick covers in another spontaneous spate of punk tunes. Sadly there was no rendition of ‘Lake of Fire’ to be heard. Rather disappointingly there was no encore.

The show, whilst a celebration of the music created at Sound City and the incredible artists he counts amongst his friends, was ultimately about Grohl. He is a great showman and kept momentum throughout a performance exceeding two hours, over which he sequentially demonstrated his vocal, guitar and drumming abilities. It was a momentous celebration of 80s music, especially the punk Grohl grew up with, featuring big boisterous, bearded, balding men proudly brandishing their guitars, with the enthusiasm of someone half their age.

One could argue that The Sound City Players’ concert was Grohl’s vanity parade, in which he showcased the idols of his youth, who have now become his celebrity friends. It has also been suggested that London got the poor man’s version, more of a Foo Fighters and friends fest than a star-studded supergroup, which fans may have been lead to expect, given Grohl’s Letterman performance with Corey Taylor of Slipknot and Stevie Nicks.

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Setlist:

  • (With Alain Johannes)
  • 1. A Trick With No Sleeve
  • 2. Why (Eleven cover)
  • 3. All My Friends (Eleven cover)
  • 4. Making a Cross (The Desert Sessions cover)
  • 5. Hangin' Tree (Queens of the Stone Age song)
  • 6. Reach Out(Eleven cover)
  • (With Chris Goss)
  • 7. Third Man On The Moon (Masters of Reality cover)
  • 8. She Got Me (Masters of Reality cover)
  • 9. It's Shit (Masters of Reality cover)
  • 10. Time Slowing Down
  • 11. Domino (Masters of Reality cover)
  • 12. The Blue Garden (Masters of Reality cover)
  • (With Lee Ving and Pat Smear)
  • 13. Your Wife Is Calling
  • 14. I Love Livin' in the City (Fear cover)
  • 15. Gimme Some Action (Fear cover)
  • 16. Beef Bologna (Fear cover)
  • 17. New York's Alright If You Like Saxophones (Fear cover)
  • 18. Foreign Policy (Fear cover)
  • 19. I Don't Care About You (Fear cover)
  • (With Rick Springfield and Pat Smear)
  • 20. The Man That Never Was
  • 21. I've Done Everything for You (Sammy Hagar cover)
  • 22. Love Is Alright Tonight (Rick Springfield cover)
  • 23. Love Somebody (Rick Springfield cover)
  • 24. Jessie's Girl (Rick Springfield cover)
  • (With Rick Nielsen, Krist Novoselic and Pat Smear)
  • 25. Hello There (Cheap Trick cover)
  • 26. He's a Whore (Cheap Trick cover)
  • 27. Stiff Competition (Cheap Trick cover)
  • 28. I Want You to Want Me (Cheap Trick cover)
  • 29. Ain't That a Shame (Fats Domino cover)
  • 30. Surrender (Cheap Trick cover)

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