Iveagh Gardens is a pretty opulent setting for a band like Fleet Foxes.
It’s a fitting venue for the new record ‘Crack Up’ – a panoramic journey through the folk offerings we’re normally accustomed to. There’s a level of grandeur on it that wasn’t as prevalent on their previous records.
There’s no heirs and graces about the lads, mind – there’s a nervous energy about them as they kick off the set.
“We don’t really feel like playing much tonight,” Robin Peckhold informs the crowd as he and his bandmates take the stage. “We’re just gonna do a few songs.”
This energy spills over and knocks some of the tracks off kilter – I Am All That I Need / Arroyo Seco / Thumbprint Scar is delivered slightly off beat, with the backing track of the choir lagging behind the lads vocals.
Grown Ocean is marred by pockets of conversation – what is to be expected of a sold out, open air gig such as this. Ragged Wood drags the focus back, with fans mouthing furiously throughout.
Soundwise, as a band, what we’re hearing could be ripped straight from a record – the intro of The Cascades is as beautiful sounding and intricate live as it is on wax. Peckhold’s vocals are impenetrable throughout, with spooky harmonies inter-splicing tracks adding layer upon layer of intrigue.
Fleet Foxes have a way of building energy that will be seen as masterful to the diehards, and frustrating to the fairweather fans.
When they get going, however, they really get going. A double whammy of Mykonos and White Winter Hymnal inspires Champions League final-style chanting – not bad for a couple of lads in beanies and plaid shirts.
The rest of the set doesn’t quite match the triumph of the performance of Helplessness Blues – a rebel-rousing crescendo of euphoria. Here would have been an appropriate place to end – but for the encore, Peckhold wants a moment to himself with his acoustic guitar.
He begins Blue Spotted Tail in the wrong key, before quickly correcting himself. It’s gorgeous, giddy and great to see artists of their style not taking themselves super seriously. Crack Up caps the night off – an odd choice, given that no one is anywhere near as engaged with their new material as they are the classics.
Fleet Foxes was more fun than anticipated, but seemingly also not as polished, and while that is refreshing in one sense, it’s slightly disappointing in another. However, no one could deny the sheer musicality that lives and breathes within each member of the band – they are musicians that deliver beautiful tunes. A little more polish around the edges certainly wouldn’t go astray though.