2017 marked a comeback of sorts for indie folk band Fleet Foxes.
Releasing the lofty and ambitious Crack-Up in the middle of the year, Robin Pecknold and company showed that not only did they manage to reclaim all of the pastoral glories that were gloriously displayed on 2011's Helplessness Blues, Crack-Up pointed a way forward for a band who've transcended any trappings that would befall your average indie folk, wool-and-winter music act these days.
This also meant that, while songs off their 2011 masterpiece have aged wonderfully, the same cannot be said for their self-titled debut, which features their most recognizable hits to date.
This was painfully clear during their Singapore debut at the Esplanade Theatre on Sunday, where the six-piece performed to thousands of local fans — songs like 'He Doesn't Know Why' and the career-boosting 'White Winter Hymnal' paled in comparison to the joyous cinematic splendour of 'Third of May / Ōdaigahara' or 'Helplessness Blues'.
But with an equal distribution of album songs on the night's setlist (seven songs each from their self-titled and Crack-Up, six from Helplessness Blues, and two from the luscious Sun Giant EP), this was ultimately terrific fan-service to a crowd who sorely missed out on the band's early days on the live stage.
And, judging by their performance on Sunday night, we've probably gotten the best out of the band in their career thus far. Juggling various instruments in-between songs, the six-piece band demonstrated their breathtaking effectiveness at sounding much, much larger than their equipment suggested.
With special live arrangements providing seamless transitions between certain songs, Crack-Up's cinematic embellishments were performed with an incredible amount of vigor — although an overwhelming sound mix robbed away finer details that would otherwise come alive through headphones.
Pecknold also proved to be a consummate and earthly presence, frequently acknowledging the crowd before most songs, and it was a heartwarming affirmation of a once-shy frontman now comfortable in his own skin. ("I’m having an easier time being away from home and I’m having an easier time performing. I have a broader perception of things now," as he tells us in an interview.)
Fleet Foxes' Singapore concert — all at once lengthy, enthralling and extensive — provided all there was needed for a band whose local debut was long anticipated, but it also displayed a band ostensibly ready for the future. Chances are we won't need to wait another six years for an album, and along with it, a return to our shores.
- 'I Am All That I Need / Arroyo Seco / Thumbprint Scar'
- 'Cassius, -'
- 'Grown Ocean'
- 'White Winter Hymnal'
- 'Ragged Wood'
- 'Your Protector'
- 'The Cascades'
- 'On Another Ocean (January / June)'
- 'Fool's Errand'
- 'He Doesn't Know Why'
- 'Blue Ridge Mountains'
- 'Tiger Mountain Peasant Song'
- 'Battery Kinzie'
- 'Third of May / Ōdaigahara'
- 'The Shrine / An Argument'
- 'Oliver James'
- 'Drops In The River'
- 'Helplessness Blues'
Special thanks to Secret Sounds Asia for the invite.