Sunday, 26 February 2012

Fleet Foxes on Fire: A Review.

June 2011 - Fleet Foxes

Moving on to June then and the sold out Fleet Foxes gig at Wolverhampton Civic Hall. Here is another band of artists from that magical city of Seattle (it’s all in those beards). The release of their second album Helplessness Blues offered something slightly different while maintaining the same kind of ethereal sound of the self-titled predecessor. Each album feels like it tells a complete story with each song a chapter creating a novel of pure aural beauty.

The first two songs performed were unfortunately marred by the incompetent sound engineers for which I don’t think the band can be held totally responsible. As powerful as Robin Pecknold’s voice is, the cacophony from the instruments (as musically superb as it was) drowned it out almost entirely. Thankfully by the third song this had been smoothed out so the remainder of the show was pretty much perfect holding many in the audience captivated for the duration.

If Band of Horses made me feel like I was floating effortlessly on a cloud listening to angels play their songs to me on harpsichords, Fleet Foxes take it a step further (or perhaps even several steps). I was indeed sitting at the feet of the Gods (and I’m an atheist) as each song was revealed inside my mind as a story of spectacular depth. It was kind of like a really good acid trip* involving angel choirs singing to the sounds of higher order orchestras combined with unicorns on lead guitar, squirrels on bass and badgers playing banjos. There were even Oompa Loompas (but with wings) dressed in fox costumes as they sang in perfect harmonies with the angel choirs.

From the melodious splendour of White Winter Hymnal and He Doesn’t Know Why to the beckoning of Blue Ridge Mountains and Ragged Wood each had the ability to yank off your scalp (although not literally) exposing your brain directly to the wondrous offerings. Then Your Protector starts off nice and slow with its gradual introduction to the other instruments before erupting into a tour de force of amazing lyrical and musical performance before the first minute is out. As the words, ‘You run with the devil,’ were sung out the big red beast appeared before my eyes but fear not for it was only Dave Grohl from Tenacious D’s The Pick of Destiny and he vanished in a puff of green smoke as the Foxes hummed a harmony that acted as a vanquishing spell.

The new album opener Montezuma was outstanding while the more delicately beautiful sounding Blue Spotted Tail was pure perfection. Pecknold held the audience by himself while the band retired for a break before the encore. Belting out Oliver James with only minimal guitar and someone in the crowd shouting, ‘Come on!’ as he really went for it.

From Lorelai to The Plains/Bitter Dancer to The Shrine/An Argument and The Cascades, there was little doubt we were in the presence of musical giants. Finishing with the title track Helplessness Blues made me want an orchard so I could work until I’m so sore all I can do is sit in my rocking chair on my porch listening to Fleet Foxes. Perhaps this is their overall plan? If it is count me in.
On top of this I was left questioning why on earth I ever had my hair cut short and how long it would take to grow it again. Added to this my need for one of those beards I directed my cloud in the direction of Seattle to see if I could speed up the process however I’m afraid I stalled and the ending of the evening’s entertainment bought me crashing back down to reality as I had to drive all the way back to Northampton.

Once again, please accept my apologies for such dodgy filming skills but when enjoying such shows filming is difficult. I'll be taking my own better pictures in future as well as better videos for future reviews.

*please note I do not encourage or endorse the use of drugs. It was the Gods, not me who made it appear like an acid trip. If you don't wish to blame the Gods then I hear those Oompa Loompas are quite colourful characters (pun intended). They probably slipped it into the beer.

Music of the moment:

1) James Vincent McMorrow - Click on his name to check out his EP We Don't Eat, it's very good. And yes it does appear he often sports one of the beards too. You see, it really is in the beards for some of these artists. The album Early in the Morning isn't half bad either, I highly recommend it. I'm gutted I missed the opportunity to see him live on his recent tour.

2) I.R.I.S. which stands for In Retrospect I See. Do you see what they did there? They have a really nice sound which sort of reminds me a bit of Funeral For A Friend. A promising EP Out of Fiction is available now.

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