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Foo Fighters leave the subtlety to Weezer [Oct. 17th, 2005|06:16 pm]
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October 17, 2005

On their new double album, "In Your Honor" (RCA), the Foo Fighters were split. One album was filled with their usual brand of roaring alterna-rock. The other was more subtle, more acoustic, almost, well, quiet.

But if there was any question which direction the band was heading, Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl answered it the moment he stepped on the Continental Airlines Arena stage Friday night. Within seconds he was screeching the album's title track, "Can you hear me? Hear me screaming?" with a level of panicked scratchiness generally reserved for Judas Priest concerts and the demonically possessed in teen slasher movies.

Soon he was running across the stage and banging his head like a metal guitar god, a whirl of dark hair and a blur of fingers for a massive rafters-shaking solo.

Forget subtlety. The Foo Fighters came to rock.

Throughout the 85-minute set, Grohl and his Foo-fighting friends made all their songs bigger, broader and louder. He turned "Stacked Actors" into a metal operetta, complete with reworking the guitar parts to be so head-banging and heavy they sounded like Queens of the Stone Age on a high-carb diet, a run to the back of the arena to do dueling guitar solos with Chris Shiflett, and a call-and-response with drummer Taylor Hawkins in a fast, punishing time signature. Relatively tame hits such as "My Hero" became massive metal anthems, punctuated with Grohl shrieking "Sing it!" at the audience during what used to be the song's quiet parts.

When Queen's Roger Taylor joined the band to tackle the British rockers' classic "Tie Your Mother Down," with Hawkins taking over the vocals, Grohl still rocked like his life depended on it.

Co-headliner Weezer, on the other hand, was all about subtlety in its 75-minute set. On its third pass through the area this year, Weezer was more about taking chances than plugging its recent "Make Believe" (Geffen) album. Everyone in the band got a chance to sing - with bassist Scott Shriner taking "Dope Nose," guitarist Brian Bell tackling "Why Bother" and drummer Pat Wilson doing "Photograph," which morphed into Blur's "Song 2" and ended with everyone playing the drums except Wilson.

Of course, singer Rivers Cuomo's regular job is secure, especially when he whips the crowd into a frenzy on "My Name Is Jonas," as well as the recent single "We Are All on Drugs." His solo version of "Island in the Sun," delivered on a small stage at the back of the arena, enhanced the song's sweetness by delaying the bruising wall of guitars in the original. Weezer did the opposite on the new single "Perfect Situation," making the guitar solos sound bigger and more like the Foo Fighters.

Not only was the Foozer combo a concert bargain, but as Weezer showed by tackling the Foos' hit "Big Me" in its set, it's a pretty potent artistic pairing.

FOO FIGHTERS. In-your-face, full-throttle rock. With Weezer and Hot Hot Heat. At sold-out Continental Airlines Arena, East Rutherford, N.J. on Friday.