Review and Photos – Fleet Foxes at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Vancouver, Jul 13 2022
From Salt Lake City, San Diego and Seattle, to Boston, Brussels and Berlin, Fleet Foxes pulled out all the stops to ensure that this 40-plus show tour would touch hearts throughout North America, and across the pond. This ambitious, city-stacked tour promotes their newest (and Grammy nominated) album Shore, an album that lead singer-songwriter, Robin Pecknold, poured every ounce of emotion and soul into. In an interview with GQ, Pecknold explains that Shore is another step towards overcoming his own struggles with anxiety and despair. A transformation that nurtures the unsettled mind into feelings of euphoria. July 12th’s show at Queen Elizabeth Theatre truly encompassed that creative vision and invited audience members along for the transformative journey. In a beautiful orpheum filled with a sea of red velvet seats under glistening chandeliers, the ambience was set for a night of soulful harmonies and cathartic moments.
The concert kicked off in a unique way. There was no grandiose entrance with flashing lights, special effects or booming sounds, but a warm welcome by the audience members as the band and accompanying musicians walked across the stage to their array of instruments (spoiler alert). The initial back and forth between Pecknold and the crowd across the elegant theatre’s mezzanine, was the foreshadowing of an intimate night that won’t be forgotten.
As an outsider and Eastern transplant, I initially assumed the banter was part of an inside joke that only true west-coasters understood. Pecknold cracked jokes about his great uncle and the infamous Pogo the Clown, and the crowd yelled out types of apples that triggered a sea of chuckles. With Pecknold’s down to earth and welcoming presence, this did not feel like a room full of strangers, but a special kind of something that seemed more like a reunion of childhood friends.
This mellow beginning to an evening with Fleet Foxes was the perfect lead up to the first songs of the night: soft, yet cheerful, relaxed, but also powerful in harmonies. They began with “Wading in Waist-high Water”, the first track from their latest album. The song began with softly sung vocals and a stripped-down guitar, then opened up to a symphonic welcoming of the other instruments. These first few songs were woven together by the horn section that continued to play and provided a natural flow to the next song. Just as it appears on the album, “Sunblind” was the second song to follow, which felt like the perfect ‘start of summer’ song after a rainy few weeks in Vancouver. As they sang in unison, “I’m gonna swim for a week in warm American water with dear friends,” I couldn’t help but envision summer nights on Sunset Beach, watching the waves roll in, wrapped in a blanket with good company, and a freshly cracked cider.
At the end of every song the theatre filled with cheers, applause and (obviously) a series of random Q&A. What could have been an awkward interlude of instrument tuning and gear swapping, turned out to be an opportunity for fans to blurt out every thought on their minds. “What did you do today?” “Who’s your favourite band member?” “How do you discover the songs you write?” Were a few examples of the questions that this curious (and very vocal) crowd were wondering about. I have to give Pecknold credit for being such a great sport and responding to every audience question with an honest answer. During a mid-tuning, casual conversation amongst “crowd companions,” Pecknold candidly shared how his music has a Beach Boys, Beatles, and Elliot Smith vibe, and even shared an insider song-writing tip, “stack a bunch of harmonies.”
Jazz and American folk group, The Westerlies, gifted the stage with brass sounds and added layers of harmonies throughout the show. A member of The Westerlies (brass section and vocals) even earned the title of “Professional Margarita Maker” on tour. This was just another fun fact that Vancouver show-goers had the privilege of learning. Wondering what stuffed toys make an appearance in the band’s green room? That’s one secret I’ll never tell.
As the night continued onwards, the musical journey took different turns from soothing to full-bodied rock and roll sounds formed by a mix of harmonies, horns, and everything in between. What I found to be impressive was the multiple talents of each musician. Drummer, Nicholas Peterson, doubling as backup vocalist. Meet Casey Wescott, pianist with a hidden talent for playing the mandolin, who can also harmonise. What can’t he do? It seemed like every musician on stage was a true multi-instrumentalist. How could I not comment on the adorable bromance between Pecknold and the bassist, Morgan Henderson, in matching hipster outfits and toques? Pecknold urged the crowd to give a round of applause for Henderson, as this was his first time playing on tour with the Fleet Foxes.
I was following the
I was following the
I was following the
An intro that every fan could immediately recognize as the angelic harmonies began to build. This was an oldie, but definitely a ‘goodie,’ and undoubtedly another crowd favourite, as audience members mouthed along, cheered louder, and smiled until the very last guitar strum. “I love that song” yells someone in the crowd. Don’t we all, kind stranger, don’t we all.
Chicago, Detroit, Toronto—Fleet Foxes are heading your way next! Prepare your list of fandom queries, because you just might get some real-talk stage confessions from this wholesome indie folk band.
“I love this show…” Pecknold commented, I do not think we could agree with you more.
More Fleet Foxes at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre photos: