Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I've been thinking about how best to do Fleet Foxes justice given that I'd gone to their concert on the strength of reviews I'd read online, as well as the speed with which their Shepherd's Bush Empire tickets sold out. I'd heard two of their tunes - White Winter Hymnal and Ragged Wood - and was suitably wowed that I thought I'd surely enjoy myself regardless.

And enjoy myself I did. I arrived a little late, having been predictably detained by work and unpredictably detained by traffic as a friend gave me a lift to Westfield (where I tried the over-hyped duck burger with foie gras from Croque Gascon) by which time the traffic and his driving style left me feeling rather carsick. In fact, I almost didn't get into the venue after all as I'd forgotten to bring my ticket with me, and ended up buying one from a scalper at £15, so, in effect, I ended up paying twice the price of admission to listen to a band I admittedly wasn't a big fan of and didn't know too much about.

And I'm glad I did! Fleet Foxes are by no means an a capella group, but the first thing that strikes you upon listening to them perform is the strength of their vocal harmonies. There aren't dedicated roles here for a baritone or a tenor or all that kind of thing; they all meld together to create some kind of beautiful folksy, almost church-like kind of harmony. I guess something akin to how King's College, Cambridge would sound if they did sixties music.

And then, of course, there're the simple guitar and drum accompaniments to each tune. They're not like what you get today from Coldplay or Snow Patrol, they're just pure and simple. In fact, each song is beautifully perfect and yet, incredibly simple. I guess that's what grabbed me that night.

It wasn't just me who was feeling it though. Clearly the audience was as well, with people around me just audibly gasping in astonishment and wonder as the band launched into each new tune.

And when Robin Pecknold did a song (inspired by Scotland in a sense) all by himself, in its pure acoustic glory, with no microphone, no amplifier, no nothing, in a venue as large as this, without straining his voice... we all went wild at the end. Truly amazing.

Will I be there for their show in February? I'd been thinking about it given that I wasn't sure if there would be anything new in their repertoire over the next three months. After thinking about their show and its effect on me a week later, I think it'd be a crying shame for me not to!

La Blogotheque - Fleet Foxes at the (abandoned) Grand Palais
Daytrotter - Fleet Foxes' Daytrotter session

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