May 29, 2017

Fleet Foxes @ Sydney Opera House

It's been a while. Five years to be exact. Fleet Foxes gave us two brilliant albums and visited us twice. First a rapturous show at the Metro Theatre and then a triumphant night at the Sydney Opera House. Then they disappeared. Josh Tillman left and became Father John Misty and Robin Pecknold ventured into University study. 2017 signaled a return. After much anticipation a song was released, the epic 'Third of May/Ōdaigahara' and soon after a new album was announced. So this was exciting news enough. But then Vivid Sydney announced that Fleet Foxes would be their headline act, playing over four consecutive nights in the Concert Hall. These were planned to be their first live shows in five years and although they eventually played a couple of small shows in the US before arriving it still felt like new territory for everyone lucky to attend. We secured prime seats for the Saturday show and then settled in for the excitement to come.

It was a fascinating show. A blend of old and new. Like any show where you hear songs for the first time there is a strange mix of excitement but also unfamiliarity. In their time away the Seattle band have grown into something else. The new songs are more experimental, multi layered and multi dimensional. Most were aided by a string section and also a brass section, which added a further layer. Of course these songs still contain the hallmarks of beautiful melodies and harmonies but they take strange twists and turns, giving plenty for the listener to chew on. My favourite was probably the afore mentioned 'Third of May/Ōdaigahara' but I also loved the back to back of  'Mearcstapa' and 'On Another Ocean (January/June)'. Some of the new songs though can still be uncomplicated such as the quiet and soulful 'I Should See Memphis'. Naturally there was great joy when old classics were brought out such as 'White Winter Hymnal', 'Ragged Wood' and my favourite, that beast of a song in 'The Shrine/An Argument'. After a short break the band returned for a surprisingly long encore which included Robin going solo and the apt closer in 'Helplessness Blues'. So ended a night which gave us plenty to ponder on. A taste of new songs, a return to older ones. A happy reminder of how great Fleet Foxes are and how nice it is to have them back.

Set List
I Am All That I Need/Arroyo Seco/Thumbprint Scar
Cassius, -
- Naiads, Cassadies
Grown Ocean
White Winter Hymnal
Ragged Wood
Your Protector
The Cascades
On Another Ocean (January/June)
Fool’s Errand
He Doesn't Know Why
Third of May/Ōdaigahara
The Shrine/An Argument

I Should See Memphis
Tiger Mountain Peasant Song (Robin solo)
If You Need To, Keep Time on Me
In the Morning (Bee Gees cover)
Blue Ridge Mountains
Drops in the River
Helplessness Blues


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