Dave Grohl is no stranger to the stage. The drummer, guitarist, singer and songwriter even slept over it when his performances brought in less revenue than now. But even for an artist – a rock star – from his experience, his latest production represents an unfamiliar realm.
“I’ve never done that before, so it could be a six-hour show,” Grohl told his first audience at the Savoy Theater in London on Monday night. ‘By the time I get to Broadway, it’s going to be an hour and a half.
Stadium rock it was not: there was no band, no light show, no third encore. It was just Grohl, a lifetime of stories and songs and a talent for the written word discovered during the pandemic. “When the confinement took place, I suddenly had nothing to do,” he said. “I never have anything to do.”
A quick glance at Grohl’s discography would confirm this: an almost uninterrupted musical performance about Scream, Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Them Crooked Vultures, and a list of collaborations that read like an alternative Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, appear.
In the light of closed venues and studios around the world, Grohl began writing posts about Instagram: short stories about his upbringing and adolescence, about David Bowie cursing him, about jamming with Prince. That kind of run of the mill Instagram stuff.
Almost inevitably, these posts made way for a reminder, The storyteller, which will be released next week and the springboard for a short series of intimate events in four cities. However, this is not a book tour – the memories were only mentioned about five minutes from the end (which was closer to two and a half hours than six). Rather, the evening consists of a captivating series of anecdotes interspersed with solo acoustic performances and illustrated by a simple slideshow. This is a format that does not differ from the recent revival of Bruce Springsteen Broadway show – a similar introspective journey based on his 2016 autobiography Born to run.
Grohl’s stories of life on wheat dogs and sleeping on a bench next to Kurt Cobain’s turtle terrarium sparked an exciting rendition of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” behind the drum kit, while “Learning to Fly” on guitar struck memories that he strikes in his own direction. with Foo Fighters.
Not all the songs are perfectly translated – “Best of You” does not work as acoustically as naturally, as “Everlong” – and after writing the program only five days before, he occasionally lost his way. Yet Grohl is a born artist, pleasantly cursing in his memories and taking the unknown medium in his stride. Without guests and no gimmicks to fall back on, it was a unique lo-fi opportunity to see an artist for whom performing in a theater of 1,150 people is a choice, not a necessity.
However, every time Grohl finds himself at a crossroads in life, whether with Scream, Nirvana or Foo Fighters, he jumps back into the pickup and tackles the road, just to see the fun. He belongs on stage, even though he no longer has to sleep there.