Katrina Benefit September 23, 2005

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In a concert with many highlights, Grohl’s performance managed to stand out. Even though the Foo Fighters foreman is plenty prone to acoustic stuff these days — half of his band’s new album, In Your Honor, is in that form, after all — each of the off-the-cuff songs he played were uniquely intimate. He started off with “Skin and Bones,” a tune he said he wrote two weeks ago while on tour — and which he dedicated, red plastic cup in hand, to a “bootlegger” standing up front who recognized it. The tune was about losing weight on the road due to stress — a trend only Meat Loaf and Tenacious D seem unfamiliar with, he said. On the topic of on-the-road travels, Grohl added that the Foos had witnessed what he called the worst devastation he’d ever seen while driving from Mississippi to Texas post-Hurricane Katrina. With that, he launched into the first-ever acoustic performance of “Best of You,” the only radio hit performed all night, bringing the crowd to its chorus-chanting potential. Saying benefit gigs give him the chance to be spontaneous, Grohl chose a cut even hard-core fans never would’ve expected: “Friend of a Friend,” an obscure song he wrote 15 years ago after meeting “two really weird dudes” and rooming with one of them in an apartment littered with corndog sticks and piles of cigarette ash. “He plays an old guitar/ With a coin found by the phone … He’s never been in love/ But he knows just what love is … But when he tells his best two friends, ‘I think I drink too much’/ No one speaks,” he sang, in obvious reference to Kurt Cobain. For his last number, Grohl called on backup in the form of Homme and Hughes. Homme — who enlisted Grohl to play drums on Queens of the Stone Age’s 2003 album, Songs for the Deaf — reversed roles and took to the kit behind the guitar-wielding Grohl. “Do you know how to play drums?” he teased Homme, who has gotten well-acquainted with them through the Eagles of Death Metal. With that they dove into a cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Born on the Bayou,” made all the more potent by Grohl’s shaggy-haired likeness to John Fogerty and the lyrics “Wishin’ I were a fast freight train/ Just a chooglin’ on down to New Orleans.”

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