Foo Fighters : Salt Lake City Olympic Medals Plaza

Dave Grohl takes to the podium to snatch the gold...

Welcome to the Winter Olympics’ medals ceremony. The bustling, festival-like enclosure is chock-full of portaloos, overpriced merchandise, corporate hoardings and anti-terrorist security measures only the Glastonbury town council could love: perimeter fencing, metal detectors, military helicopters, and armed guards. That, however, is where the similarities to the Summer festival jaunt ends. It’s night-time in February, and at this altitude, temperatures are dipping well below [zero degrees celcius].

Hot tickets over the last few night have includedN *SYNC

, Creed, Dave Matthews, and Barenaked Ladies, each band playing to a crowd 20,000 strong. So far, so bland. So thank god for theFoo Fighters. “It ain’t that cold,” a cheery Dave Grohl insists, whipping off his hat (he does, however, keep his fingerless gloves on).

No strangers to this sort of gig, the Foos

stick to basic festival rules, tearing through the hits, and working the cameramen rather than the back row. No gesture is too un-subtle: for Grohl, that means a Bono-esque sojourn from the stage to the middle of the crowd, sharp-eyed security men following his every step, lest this be the moment that the Al-Qaeda stooges choose to lunge.

Tonight, the Foos

sound like the band that launched a thousand highlight reels. ‘This Is A Call’ and ‘Everlong’ inspire mass sing-a-longs – “Hey! I know this one!” think the crowd, as one – while ‘I’ll Stick Around’ and ‘Monkey Wrench’ turn up the temperature on a heaving moshpit. Forthcoming single ‘The One’ passes without fanfare early in the set, but Grohl does call attention to another new song – a leisurely Tom Petty-ish anthem called ‘Overdrive’. [I]”Overdrive, I’m goin’ life or death”[/I], sings Grohl, a line that nags like a medal-starved Russian delegation. And you’re forced to conclude that, while the Foo Fighters

might be doing what they’ve always done, that fact is at the very heart of their enduring appeal.

“It’s a radical new departure,” Grohl grins, sheepishly. But then, he knows 20,000 people didn’t brave this freezing temperature out of any desperate sense of punk-rock cool. The guy is genuinely jazzed by all the snow, sport and spectacle. And that’s why, when it comes to crowd-pleasing, Dave Grohl takes to the podium to snatch the gold.

Jason Cohen