Air Canada Centre, Toronto - March 22, 2008

JANE STEVENSON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 12:27 PM ET

TORONTO -- How to best sum up the Foo Fighters show on Saturday night at the Air Canada Centre?

What a Rush! Literally.

Rush singer-bassist Geddy Lee and guitarist Alex Lifeson surprised the crowd by showing up about an hour into the Foos’ two-hour-and-10-minute performance to play with drummer Taylor Hawkins during his drum solo and the three musicans then played the Rush instrumental YYZ.

Let's just say the appearance by the Toronto prog-rockers injected some much needed energy and excitement into the proceedings and Hawkins even had a hug for Lee afterwards.

"Rush! Rush!" screamed Foos leader Dave Grohl in amazement as the two musicians walked off stage.

"Good night!"

He was, of course, kidding and Grohl and his bandmates ventured down a long catwalk to a smaller circular stage on the floor that descended from above them to play a quieter acoustic set including the standout My Hero and the new song, But, Honestly.

Surprisingly, The Foos - easily one of the best live acts around - didn't exactly come out fighting on Saturday night but by song three, the classic, Times Like These, they were throwing full punches.

The always likeable Grohl was determined to get the crowd, who were strangely still during the first two songs - Let It Die and The Pretender both from the group's latest album, Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace - on his side and ventured out on the catwalk to pump up reaction.

This is a guy who knows how to work a room.

In the middle of the Canadian leg of their world tour, Grohl also pointed out that Saturday's show was their biggest yet up north.

"I like lots of people," said the singer-guitarist, who divided the crowd into "a 50-50 split" of "old-timers and newcomers."

With guitarist Chris Shiflett and bassist Nate Mendel rounding out the Foos, the lineup also increased at times to include touring musicians and previous guitarist Pat Smear, percussionist Drew Hester, cellist-violinist Jessie Greene and keyboardist Rami Jaffee. (Hester was even forced into a triangle solo during the acoustic set by Grohl which also saw Hawkins sing lead on Cold Day In The Sun).

But for every monster arena anthem like Times Like These, Learn To Fly, Everlong, Monkey Wrench, All My Life, and Best Of You, there were strange moments like a bluesy riff that slowed down the otherwise propulsive This Is A Call, a guitar battle between Grohl and Shiflett, or new songs like Let It Die and Cheer Up, Boys (Your Make Up Is Running), that just fell flat.

Thankfully, by the show's second half, right after the Rush appearance as a matter of fact, the Foos kicked into high gear and stayed there for the rest of the night.

"You've got nuts the size of grapefruits," said Grohl to Hawkins after he played with Lee and Lifeson.

The encore also included a great story about Grohl being just 19-years-old in Toronto for a 1987 gig with his pre-Nirvana punk band Scream and asked at the last minute to play drums for Iggy Pop at a record release party.

Even back then, Grohl knew what he was doing.

SUN Rating: 4.5 out of 5


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