At the last Foo Fighters Southern California show --- opening for Rage Against the Machine at Irvine Meadows in September --- the band appeared on automatic pilot; headlining at the Palladium, the Foo Fighters were a completely different group --- animated, ardent and appealing. Singer-guitarist Dave Grohl opened the set seated at a drum kit beside drummer Taylor Hawkins, delighting fans who worshipped his previous band, Nirvana, in which he played drums. But the front man quickly moved to center stage for the first song, the familiar and fast "This Is a Call" from the band's self-titled Capitol debut, starting a steady mix of old songs and new material from the sophomore disc "The Colour and the Shape."
Engaging tempo changes and quirks within the songs separate the Foo Fighters from the post-alternative pack; their keen sense of structure and varied pace showed up in the lounge-like “For All the Cows,” the Bic-lighter rock of “See You” and the hand-clap building of “New Way Home.”Only slow points in the set came when Grohl had some technical problems and took the opportunity to tell a long-winded story of a car accident from his teenage years. Recently added guitarist Franz Stahl, Grohl’s bandmate in the mid-’80s hard-core unit Scream, has slid adeptly into the key string role with nary a burp, justly complementing Grohl’s guitar work. Most unexpected was the ease and charisma of the once-awkward Grohl as a front man: He was both captivating and carefree as he blew bubbles with his gum and waved to the audience between screaming and singing. Sadly, much of opening act Talk Show’s near-45-minute set came across as a loud Beatlesesque wall of sound with little distinction between songs, largely because of the Palladium’s horrid acoustics. Act is three-quarters of Stone Temple Pilots (sans singer Scott Weiland). They supposedly try to distance themselves from the platinum act, yet they oddly chose to tag on a portion of the STP hit “Trippin’ on a Hole in a Paper Heart” to their final song, “John.” The adept musicianship of the foursome wasn’t enough to pull the tunes out of the sound problems, and the lack of an interesting focal point onstage didn’t help matters.