PBS does not shy away from anything, including hard-driving rock and roll. In the PBS Summer Concert Series streaming now, two ongoing series stand out for bringing legendary rock acts to America’s living rooms.
Austin City Limits out of KLRU in Austin, Texas, has not only been honored by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum as a rock and roll landmark, but is the only television program to ever receive the National Medal of Arts, the nation’s highest award for artistic excellence. The longest-running music series in American television history (it debuted as a pledge show with Willie Nelson in 1975) showcases popular music legends and innovators from every genre, and also mounts live events, like the three-day Austin City Limits Festival in October.
Here at THIRTEEN in New York City, our Great Performances series has a long history of bringing the city’s Metropolitan Opera and Broadway productions to a national audience. Its new subseries Landmarks Live in Concert is hosted by Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith and features artists performing in historic venues as well as casual on-location interviews with Smith. The new series hit the rock out of the park so to speak with its Foo Fighters episode, filmed in Greece.
Highlighted below are some of the best rock artists to see on PBS platforms. For more great rock streaming like Queen’s 1977 recording and tour of News of the World, and Journey in concert in 1981, see the entire Summer Concert Series collection of PBS programs. All are available through the station member benefit Passport.
Iggy Pop sings “Funtime” at Austin City Limits.
On July 27, 2018, rock icon Pop (former Stooges frontman) released the four tracks of Teatime Dub Encounters, his collaboration with the U.K. electronic duo Underworld. Bonding over their contributions to the film Trainspotting and respect for its director Danny Boyle, the duo got Iggy to meet them at their hotel room, which unbeknownst to him was purposefully rigged as a studio in case he agreed to lay vocals over their pre-recorded tracks. Iggy was game. Read the story of the new EP on Rolling Stone.
The man who performs bare-chested has said that he’s not interested in being seen anymore and would sooner sing behind a screen at his next live performance. That’s ok, we’ll always have Austin City Limits: Iggy Pop, a thrilling hour with the rock & roll legend. The Detroit native blasts through classics from his first two solo albums, the late 1970s pair of collaborations with David Bowie, and cuts from his then new Post Pop Depression (2016). Joining him on stage are the all-star team behind that album: Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme and Dean Fertita and the Arctic Monkeys’ Matt Helders, with guests Queens’ Troy Van Leeuwen and indie-rock mainstay Matt Sweeney. He comes out thrashing as he opens the eleven-song set with “Lust For Life,” is shirtless by the second song, and in his midwestern drawl, doesn’t fail to politely thank the crowd between songs.
Set list: Lust for Life/ American Valhalla / Sweet 16 / In the Lobby / Some Weird Sin / Funtime / Tonight / Sunday / China Girl / Break Into Your Heart / Gardenia
Foo Fighters Perform “The Pretender” in Landmarks Live in Concert
This outtake jam is from the Foo Fighters – Landmarks Live in Concert: A Great Performances Special shoot, when the band rocked “The Pretender” (the band’s hit single off Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace in 2007) for nearly ten minutes.
Foo Fighters’ current Concrete and Gold tour picks up again September 1 with West Coast dates and on October 6, they’ll be at the Cal Jam ’18, which frontman Dave Grohl is curating with acts like his hero, Iggy Pop – appearing with his Post Pop Depression band – plus Garbage, Tenacious D, and Greta Van Fleet to name a few. The ever-pumped Grohl, former drummer for Nirvana, talks about Iggy and creating his dream lineup for the festival in this Variety interview.
Grohl’s perpetual excitement about music and performing is clear on stage and in his conversations with host Chad Smith in Foo Fighters – Landmarks Live in Concert. Strumming his guitar alone at start of an electrifying performance at the famed Odeon of Herodes Atticus from the Acropolis in Athens, Greece, Dave Grohl admits, “We’ve done some crazy things over the last 20 years, but I think this might be the craziest thing the Foo Fighters have ever done!” He opens with “Times Like These.”
The amphitheater has been hosting concerts since the year it was completed – 161AD – and seats 5,000 people at a very steep incline, which made a big impression on Grohl. “I don’t think I’ve ever performed to a wall of people before,” says Grohl, “it’s amazing!”
Concert footage is interspersed with Grohl and Smith visiting historic Greek sites. Wearing his Forest Hills High Ramones T-shirt, Grohl takes a boat trip to the Temple of Poseidon and describes recovering from his broken leg in Greece after a 2015 tour. While in a car, the two drummers talk about how the Foo Fighters got Paul McCartney to play drums on their song, “Sunday Rain.”
Set list: Times Like These / Walk / Dirty Water / These Days / My Hero / Best Of You / Everlong
Robert Plant sings “In the Mood” at Austin City Limits.
Robert Plant is one of the few stadium rock legends still making great new music. On tour now with the Sensational Space Shifters, Plant’s additional U.S. September dates for their Carry Fire tour include three nights with Austin City Limits Live at The Moody Theater in Austin, TX, with special guest Lucinda Williams. Carry Fire (Oct. 2017) is the former Led Zeppelin frontman’s 11th solo studio album and landed on Rolling Stone Magazine’s top 50 albums list of 2017.
If you’re in Austin, you can win a pair of passes to the taping (no tickets are sold) in a weekly lottery. The tour doesn’t have upcoming New York City dates, so be on the lookout for his future episode on Austin City Limits, which will record Plant’s performance for broadcast.
To get your fix of the generously maned man whose voice has been described “picturesque” by Alison Krauss, watch his Austin City Limits: Robert Plant concert from 2016, in which Plant and the Sensational Shapeshifters leafed through the Led Zeppelin and blues canons and Plant’s solo Americana albums. As described by the show producers, Plant “explores the connection between rock ‘n’ roll and traditional African music, revitalizing fan favorites with West African instruments to glorious effect. Closing out the set with an explosive performance of the face-melter “Whole Lotta Love,” Plant weaves blues standards “I Just Want to Make Love to You” and “Hey! Bo Diddley” into the classic, demonstrating the epic scope of his illustrious career.”
Can we get a “Hey, oh, hey, oh”?
Set list: Lemon Song / Rainbow / Black Dog / Turn It Up / In the Mood / Babe / Little Maggie / I Just Want to Make Love to You / Whole Lotta Love