Thursday, November 6, 2008

Fleet Foxes (1 of 2): London

Had a great day in London yesterday. Had bacon and eggs in a neat little 'Caf' down the road in Clapham. They had a picture on the wall of the titular dude from The Mummy movies, eating bacon and eggs I suspect. Waited for a bus for about ten minutes only to discover I was on the wrong side of the road. Got the tube up to Camden and strolled around, not in the mood (or the pocket) for shopping, even when the dude selling bowler hats dropped his price considerably when I walked away - sometimes you just couldn't be arsed haggling, or shopping.
Made it back to the gaff with enough time to hook up with Dave, get a few beers in and head to Shepherds Bush for pre-gig pints. Met Paula and had some good eats in a really cool pub across the green, then into the gig!
photo from
It was a bit of a funny gig, I think mainly because it was in a huge theatre and we were seated up on the second circle. We did sit at the front row, and as Dave put it, it was like peeking over a wall to look down at the gig. After being utterly bored by J Tillman, and dismayed that we weren't allowed outside for a smoke until after Fleet Foxes went on stage (which basically meant no smokes), we had a few pints in the bar while a nice Aussie couple promised to keep our seats (and some other wanker beside me said he 'couldn't promise anything').

The gig was quite excellent, really cool to see them live at last. Of course they didn't disappoint, particularly enjoyed Sun It Rises straight into Ragged Wood. Top class versions of Quiet Houses, He Doesn't Know Why and haunting Heard Them Stirring keeping attention in the auditorium. Mykonos and English House from the previous EP also impressed. There was even a mention of the quite disastrous version of White Winter Hymnal on Jools Holland the night before, which was funny. Lead singer Robin Pecknold claimed that it was his fault and he 'fucked it up', but there were no such problems tonight, a spine-tingling performance.

I suppose the thing that jarred me was the banter with the crowd. I can't put my finger on it exactly, but to put it simply, it wasn't the kind of chat I expected from the band, considering the type of music they make. Admittedly it was quite a momentous day, and plenty of talk about Obama and 'hot' Sarah Palin were entertaining, but just didn't fit the music they were playing. There was something odd and unsettling about performing a soft and haunting folk tune such as Heard Them Stirring and immediately proceeding to stand around the stage with a kind of cabaret style banter. Not once did they think to enlighten us as to what the songs were about, not even the sniff of an amusing anecdote, more in line with 'so what's your guy like?' in reference to Gordon Brown. It was one stray comment away from 'So, how about that Man United team, huh?'

It's a strange complaint, but the music is still top notch. It just tainted the experience somewhat. I reckon I was right to have avoided YouTube clips or interviews. At least I'll always have that album to lock away with headphones on. Won't be rushing out to buy Fleet Foxes Live at Shepherd's Bush Empire though.

No comments: