(Photo: Alexander Michael)
Home » Sound City Players: Opposites attract (and don’t) in New York

Sound City Players: Opposites attract (and don’t) in New York

(Photo: Alexander Michael)
(Photo: Alexander Michael)

Stevie Nicks. John Fogerty. Fear’s Lee Ving. Cheap Trick’s Rick Nielsen. Rick Springfield. It’s hard to imagine those people having much of anything in common beyond a) being musicians of a certain age, b) having recorded at L.A.’s legendary, now-shuttered Sound City studio and c) being friends with Dave Grohl.

Elements “b” and “c” are what brought the above and several other musicians to stages in Park City, Utah and Los Angeles over the past month, and Wednesday night saw the unlikely gang of musicians take the stage at New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom. In his inimitable ringleader fashion, Grohl has used “Sound City: Real to Reel” — the documentary he recently released about the famously dumpy studio where dozens of classic albums, ranging from Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours” to Nirvana’s “Nevermind,” were made — as a catalyst to continue an ongoing real-life Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp that has seen him performing with Paul McCartney, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and others over the past few years. He rallied several of the musicians he interviewed in the film, assembled the Foo Fighters and some auxiliary Queens of the Stone Age members to join him as the house band, and off they went on a jaunt through some far-flung corners of Grohl’s teenage record collection (and presumably that of this evening’s predominantly middle-aged crowd). It’s probably safe to say no other person on Earth could have united these musicians… or, at least, would have wanted to. Like the film is his tribute to the studio, these concerts are his self-financed tribute to them — there was very little Dave Grohl-written music in the show.

“It’s gonna be a long f—in’ night – you know that, right?” Grohl roared one song into the nearly three-and-a-half-hour long show, which occasionally featured clips from the film in the brief gaps between the 4-to-6-song sets. It’s a testament to his fans’ affection and trust that they enthusiastically waited a good 90 minutes before hearing a single song that most of them knew. While Grohl was onstage for the entire night, headbanging enthusiastically whether playing guitar, bass or (too briefly) drums, the first part of the show featured a brace of obscure songs (from the film, Queens of the Stone Age, Them Crooked Vultures and Masters of Reality) sung by QOTSA’s collaborators Alain Johannes and Chris Goss. Rage Against the Machine drummer Zack Wilk played drums for the latter part of the set; like a pumped-up high school teacher, Grohl explained to the crowd just how legendary these generally unknown musicians are.

A short set of songs by Fear — the legendary late ‘70s L.A. punk act beloved by John Belushi—bellowed by Ving followed. While the presence of Foo Fighter Pat Smear — who was asked to join Nirvana purely because he’d been in L.A. punk icons the Germs—brought some old-school authenticity to the songs, the band, who were completely on point for the rest of the night, just wasn’t right. Punk is rock at its most basic; Taylor Hawkins — a world-class rock drummer — brought too much flair, and three guitarists is way too many for that sound.

The Cheap Trick set brought a needed lift to the show. Grohl moved behind the drums, Krist Novoselic stepped in on bass, Hawkins took the mic, and Cheap Trick’s Rick Nielsen teamed with Grohl to power a bracing set of “Hello There,” “Stiff Competition,” “I Want You to Want Me,” “Ain’t That a Shame” and, of course, “Surrender.” Nielsen bounded from one end of the stage to the other; Grohl’s drumming was stellar throughout — he kicked off “Ain’t That a Shame” with a riveting tribal rhythm that was a highlight of the show. And while Hawkins was no Robin Zander (shirtless, he looked more like Brad Pitt in “True Romance”), he passed muster, and brought a nice tribute to “Surrender” by replacing the Kiss records mentioned in the lyric with Cheap Trick records.

Rick Springfield, the odd man out in this very odd lineup, was up next, finishing, inevitably, with “Jessie’s Girl.”

John Fogerty stepped onstage, backed by the Foo Fighters, and jolted the crowd back to life with a blazing version of the Creedence hit “Travelling Band.” They were well-rehearsed — the Foos backed him for a version of the song on his forthcoming album, “Wrote a Song for Everyone” — and unlike the Fear set, the band’s classic-rock approach fit his songs like a glove. They tore through “Born on the Bayou,” “Centerfield,” “Keep on Chooglin’”, “Bad Moon Rising” and “Proud Mary,” with Fogerty clearly having the time of his life. “I’m up here playin’ with the f—in’ Foo Fighters!” he yelled in the middle of the set. “I especially love playing with this guy, who’s having such a great time playing rock and roll. Dave Grohl, he’s like a little kid!”

Finally Stevie Nicks took the stage and the band kicked back into gear on a rousing “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around,” with Grohl playing Tom Petty’s part. After the song ended, Nicks told a harrowing story about how her godson had died of an overdose. “I wrote a poem about it, because that’s what I do.” Days later, Grohl called her about the film and eventually asked if she wanted to do a song together. She sent him the poem and said, “’Knowing our history, do you want to go there with me?’ He said, ‘I’m with you, babe.’” The mid-tempo, intense song is called “You Can’t Fix This” and is featured on the “Sound City” 11-track companion album, out next month. (Editor’s note: Stevie’s godson is her former manager Glen Parrish’s son.)

The band eased into a fluid “Dreams” — complete with Nicks’ signature hand gestures and some horrifying hippie dancing from some women in the crowd — then a lovely version of “Landslide,” with Nicks recalling writing the song by herself in the house of a person she didn’t know in Colorado in 1973, accompanied here by Grohl on 12-string acoustic.

Squalling feedback morphed into a majestic, drawn-out version of “Gold Dust Woman,” and then the long night was through. There was no encore — which isn’t really a surprise when you try to imagine what songs that motley crew might have played together. In fact, it’s probably a good thing these shows are so far-flung. What might life on that tour bus be like?

By Jem Aswad / Billboard / Thursday, February 14, 2013


LIVE IN CONCERT (2023-2024)

Billy Joel and Stevie NicksStevie Nicks

FEB 10, 2024
Mark G Etess Arena
Atlantic City, NJ

FEB 14, 2024
UBS Arena
Belmont Park, NY

FEB 17, 2024
CFG Bank Arena
Baltimore, MD

FEB 21, 2024
Bon Secours Wellness Arena
Greenville, SC

FEB 24, 2024
Hard Rock Live
Hollywood, FL

FEB 28, 2024
Smoothie King Center
New Orleans, LA

MAR 3, 2024
CHI Health Center
Omaha, NE

MAR 6, 2024
Simmons Bank Arena
North Little Rock, AR

MAR 9, 2024
AT&T Stadium
Arlington, TX
Billy Joel

MAY 3, 2024 – MAY 5, 2024
Lovin’ Life Fest
Charlotte, NC

MAY 7, 2024
Enterprise Center
St Louis, MO

MAY 10, 2024
WinStar World Casino & Resort
Thackerville, OK

MAY 14, 2024
Bridgestone Arena
Nashville, TN

MAY 18, 2024
Frost Bank Center
San Antonio, TX

MAY 21, 2024
Yaamava’ Resort & Casino – Yaamava’ Theater
Highland, CA

MAY 24, 2024
BottleRock Napa Valley
Napa, CA

MAY 27, 2024
Delta Center
Salt Lake City, UT

MAY 30, 2024
Ball Arena
Denver, CO

Gainbridge Fieldhouse
Indianapolis, IN

JUN 9 
Mohegan Sun Casino
Uncasville, CT

JUN 12
MVP Arena
Albany, NY

JUN 15 
Hersheypark Stadium
Hershey, PA

JUN 18
Van Andel Arena
Grand Rapids, MI

JUN 21, 2024
Soldier Field
Chicago, IL

JUL 12, 2024
BST Hyde Park
London, England

Two Icons One Night presented by Live Nation
^ Non-Live Nation show

Previous 2023 dates

March 10, 2023 – BILLY JOEL
Los Angeles, CA
SoFi Stadium

March 15, 2023
Seattle, WA
Climate Pledge Arena

March 18, 2023
Las Vegas, NV
T-Mobile Arena

May 12, 2023
Raleigh, NC
PNC Arena

May 16, 2023
Knoxville, TN
Thompson-Boling Arena

May 19, 2023 – BILLY JOEL
Nashville, TN
Nissan Stadium

May 22, 2023
Atlanta, GA
State Farm Arena

May 25, 2023
Orlando, FL
Amway Center

June 16, 2023 – BILLY JOEL
Philadelphia, PA
Lincoln Financial Field

June 20, 2023
Toronto, ON (Canada)
Scotiabank Arena

June 23, 2023
Chicago, IL
United Center

June 27, 2023
Louisville, KY
KFC Yum! Center

August 5, 2023 – BILLY JOEL
Columbus, OH
Ohio Stadium

August 8, 2023
Milwaukee, WI
Fiserv Forum

August 12, 2023
Houston, TX
Toyota Center

August 15, 2023
Austin, TX
Moody Center

August 19, 2023 – BILLY JOEL
Kansas City, MO
Arrowhead Stadium

September 23, 2023 – BILLY JOEL
Foxborough, MA
Gillette Stadium

September 27, 2023
Pittsburgh, PA
PPG Paints Arena

October 1, 2023
New York, NY
Madison Square Garden

October 4, 2023
Buffalo, NY
KeyBank Center

October 7, 2023 – BILLY JOEL
Baltimore, MD 
M&T Bank Stadium

October 28, 2023
Memphis, TN
FedEx Forum

November 1, 2023
Savannah, GA
Enmarket Arena

November 4, 2023
Allentown, PA
PPL Center

November 7, 2023
Detroit, MI
Little Caesars Arena

November 10, 2023 – BILLY JOEL
Minneapolis, MN
U.S. Bank Stadium

November 29, 2023
San Diego, CA
Viejas Arena

December 2, 2023
Inglewood, CA
The Kia Forum

December 5, 2023
Palm Desert, CA
Acisure Arena

December  8, 2023 – BILLY JOEL
Phoenix, AZ
Chase Field

December 12, 2023
Sacramento, CA
Golden 1 Center

December 15, 2023
San Francisco, CA
Chase Center

2022 Tour

Stevie Nicks

Jazz Aspen Snowmass
Snowmass, CO
Labor Day 2022

Ravinia Festival
Highland Park, IL
September 8, 2022
September 10, 2022

Pine Knob Music Theatre
Clarkston, MI
September 13, 2022
w/ Vanessa Carlton

Sea Hear Now Festival
Asbury, NJ
September 17, 2022

Xfinity Center
Mansfield, MA
September 19, 2022
w/ Vanessa Carlton

Maine Savings Amphitheatre
Bangor, ME
September 22, 2022
w/ Vanessa Carlton

Sound on Sound Festival
Bridgeport, CT
September 24-25, 2022

Ohana Festival
Dana Point, CA
September 30, 2022

Hollywood Bowl
Los Angeles, CA
October 3, 2022
w/ Vanessa Carlton

Ak-Chin Pavilion

Phoenix, AZ
October 6, 2022
w/ Vanessa Carlton

Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion

The Woodlands, TX
October 9, 2022
w/ Vanessa Carlton

Ameris Bank Amphitheatre
Alpharetta, GA
October 12, 2022
w/ Vanessa Carlton

Ascend Amphitheater
Nashville, TN
October 16, 2022
w/ Vanessa Carlton

Credit One Stadium
Charleston, SC
October 19, 2022
w/ Vanessa Carlton

PNC Music Pavilion
Charlotte, NC
October 22, 2022
w/ Vanessa Carlton

MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Amphitheatre
Tampa, FL
October 25, 2022
w/ Vanessa Carlton

iTHINK Financial Amphitheatre
West Palm Beach, FL
October 28, 2022
w/ Vanessa Carlton

Orion Amphitheatre
Huntsville, AL
October 31, 2022


Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
The Woodlands, TX
November 2, 2022
w/ Vanessa Carlton

Ak-Chin Pavilion
Phoenix, AZ
November 5, 2022
w/ Vanessa Carlton