Fleet Foxes @ Corona Theatre – 25th July 2018

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It’s almost 9 years to the day since Fleet Foxes last passed through Montreal, headlining a sold-out Metropolis way back in August 2009. That show was their 3rd visit in 16 months…and how happy I was to catch them all! 3 shows in 16 months, then nothing for 9 years. Clearly, feast or famine when it comes to these guys!

9 years away has done nothing to dampen Montreal’s love for the Seattle 5-piece, however, as evidenced by the fact that tonight’s show sold out a good while ago, with the promoters event page on Facebook plastered with many begging requests for spare tickets. Those crammed inside Théatre Corona tonight are the lucky few.

After opening the set with mellow oldie Grown Ocean, the closer on their sophomore Helplessness Blues record, the band play the first few songs from last years comeback third record Crack-Up. It pretty mesmerizing in the live setting, complete with drums that sound almost tribal in nature, complete with a French Horn, flute, and of course the magical soft harmonies we’ve come to associate with Fleet Foxes across their discography.

The sold-out venue and this blazing hot Montreal summer combine to raise the temperature inside Corona pretty quickly tonight, and Frontman Robin Pecknold is already starting to feel it. “You guys are hot too, huh?!”, he asks jokingly. Personally, I’ve been to l’Escogriffe for a show already this summer, and this is not a patch on that sweatbox, but yeah, tonight could be considered a little stuffy for those not acclimatized to Montreal summer shows. Still, not one to complain, Robin continues “this is fun, this is a great place to play!”

Shortly thereafter, the glorious intro to White Winter Hymnal causes phones to light the room and prompts a huge singalong, which continues as the song merges into the majestic Ragged Wood. This, in turn, strums seamlessly into Your Protector, and a wave of goosebumps hits. Magical stuff.

Fool’s Errand is much more up-tempo than on the Crack-Up record, with its thumping bass drum through the verse and stirring breakdown at the chorus. Again, one song merges effortlessly into the next, this time in the form of He Doesn’t Know Why, and is met with more rapturous cheers at its conclusion.

After a flawless Mykonos and the moody, churning Mearcstapa, the band leaves the stage to leave Robin alone, who checks in on the state of the crowd: “you guys OK, need water??” When one guy yells back “beer!”, he laughs and agrees “OK, a round for everyone on me!” A solo acoustic Tiger Mountain Peasant Song and piano-accompanied If You Need To, Keep Time On Me then follows, before the whole band returns to the stage.

Before they get any further, though, one guy right at the back of the theatre yells at the top of his lungs “THANK YOU FOR MAKING LIFE MORE BEARABLE WITH YOUR MUSIC!” Both crowd and band laugh in unison, and Robin even claps, commenting on how that was hands-down the best crowd call of the tour so far! Third Of May / Ōdaigahara follows and has a truly triumphant vibe, with strobe lights blaring at the breakdown, something you wouldn’t typically associate with a Fleet Foxes show! The glorious Blue Ridge Mountains closes out the main set, complete with double bass and mandolin.

After resonating cheers summon Robin back to the stage, he declares “thank you! I mean, you guys are the best crowd of the whole tour!” You totally believe him too; in the various times I’ve seen Fleet Foxes, I’ve never heard him say that.

Another call from the delirious crowd is misheard by Robin: “you want Get Lucky by Daft Punk?!” After a few attempts at strumming it, he gives up: “I’ve come too far to change who I am!” He continues “this is the original demo for Get Lucky I submitted to Daft Punk, they took it in a different direction…” The song in question is actually the delicate Oliver James, with beats provided by the handclaps of the audience. It almost feels like we’re around a campfire, such is the cozy vibe at this point…or maybe it’s just because of the temperature of Corona right now! A cover of Jackson C. Frank’s Blues Run The Game leads into the triumphant Helplessness Blues to close out the night perfectly after a stellar hour and forty minutes. Gotta hope it’s not another 9 years before we get to do this again!

Set List

Grown Ocean
Arroyo Seco
Cassius, –
– Naiads, Cassadies
Drops In The River
White Winter Hymnal
Ragged Wood
Your Protector
Fools’ Errand
He Doesn’t Know Why
Bedouin Dress
Mykonos
Mearcstapa
Tiger Mountain Peasant Song
If You Need To, Keep Time On Me
Third Of May / Ōdaigahara
The Shrine / An Argument
Blue Ridge Mountains

Encore

Oliver James
Blues Run The Game
Helplessness Blues

Review – Simon Williams
Photos – Ariane Williams

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