Foxes at the Academy 2, Dublin, 10th March 2014
“I haven’t played a gig this intimate in years,” says Foxes towards the end of her Academy 2 set on Monday night. It seems somewhat vainglorious, but also a bit ‘I don’t normally watch the Late Late Show but…’
In fairness to Ms Louisa Rose Allen, she does seem to offer a show that’s worthy of a venue where the stage actually rises above the audience and views aren’t obscured by a liberal scattering of pillars among the crowd; a venue where the speakers aren’t aimed at the midriffs of the front row; a venue where shout of “Put your hands up” doesn’t see half of the crowd touching the ceiling.
It doesn’t seem to matter to many of the 200 or so in attendance, as large swathes (mostly girls in their late teens or early 20s) have their dancing shoes on before Foxes even takes to the stage. It certainly seems that the three Californian sisters playing over in the Olympia aren’t the only people bringing ‘girl power’ (has that phrase been used since the ‘90s?) to Dublin this evening. Perhaps to labour the point, the speakers spit out some Haim, or at least some bastardized, electro version of Falling.
Foxes opens with Talking to Ghosts, bounding across the stage with enthusiasm for all those lucky enough to actually be able to see her. It’s upbeat, poppy, and it seems to fill a much bigger space than the one it necessarily inhabits.
The same goes for White Coats, Night Owls Early Birds, Youth… and right now there’s the feeling that everything is just too samey. It’s all ‘90s dance-inspired pop and despite there being catchy beats all round, without any variety it just feels rather tepid. Foxes has a beautiful pop voice and, though the occasional frailty creeps in here and there, she is able to blast out the notes when needs be.
When she’s not singing, though, things grind to a halt. Her audience interaction is, at best, bland. At worst it is borderline condescending. “I’ve always wanted to come to Dublin. This is amazing,” she says early on, obviously not wise to the fact that you no longer have to sell your kidneys to take the short hop flight across the Irish Sea.
“Oh my God, I can’t believe that Dublin knows Youth,” she says later as though we’ve only just crawled out of the primordial ooze and sprout legs. We watch the same episodes of Eastenders as you do, love. We’ve finally heard what the Fox says, and it’s none too appealing.
Some of the intros she proffers to her songs, particularly Youth and Beauty Queen, again tend towards the vainglorious. She seems to be assigning too much meaning to the words of her own pop songs.
All the while, her songs offer that ‘Coming soon to a spinning class near you…’ feel to them. A semi-acoustic cover of Drake’s Hold On We’re Going Home, interspersed with Rihanna’s chorus from Eminem’s Monster, is the only real change of pace, though it seems to get as many bemused faces as appreciative responses from the crowd.
After ‘Glorious’ is released in May Foxes won’t have to deal with venues like the Academy 2 again. To be a proper pop star, she will need to throw in some variety to the mix. A little more humility wouldn’t go amiss either.
The show does hit a few high points, Let Go for Tonight and the Grammy winning Clarity (originally recorded with Zedd) being prime examples. Ultimately, though, it’s all just a bit too repetitive.
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Photos:Mark O’ Connor