Seattle-based troubadours Fleet Foxes break into the UK leg of a European tour to perform their unique brand of chamber folk music at the BBC Radio Theatre in London (Thursday 9 June, 8:00pm, BBC Radio 2).
Vocalist/guitarist and writer Robin Pecknold can’t exactly be described as your archetypal rock ‘n’ roll frontman, with his almost apologetic demeanour and clothes that are more Millets than Issy Miyake. Hunched over his guitar he seems almost reluctant in the spotlight, personifying the tension and angst expressed in so many of the band’s songs.
They perform material from their eponymous debut album, the EP Sun Giant and a generous helping from their recently released second album Helplessness Blues, including instant classics like Montezuma, Lorelei and the title track, plus the epic The Shrine/An Argument with its striking free-form sax break.
Performed live, the songs have more balls than the album versions — that’s not to say they are better or worse, just refreshingly and ever so slightly different. Those familiar with the material will also notice slight tweaks to some of the arrangements that, again, take this live performance to a new level.
The harmonies are, of course, impeccable and the musicianship breathtaking. It all goes to prove that the brouhaha surrounding their arrival in 2008 wasn’t misplaced and that, with their neat sidestepping of the difficult second album syndrome, their elevation to superstar status is well deserved.