Since the release of their critically acclaimed sophomore album Helplessness Blues, Fleet Foxes have grown comfortably into their current incarnation of one of the most lauded acts of recent years. Massey Hall was built for bands like Fleet Foxes, their impeccable harmonies and soaring vocals sweep around the venue, washing over the audience. Upon taking the stage, singer Robin Pecknold expressed his pleasure of playing this historic venue by saying that the way the room is arranged feels “like a hug” and the Seattle natives are fully embraced by the captivated crowd.
Amongst a barebones stage set and just a curtain for a backdrop, despite emerging into a headline act. Fleet Foxes don’t seem to compromise their roots for a bigger setting. With the band members doing their own sound check prior to curtain call. While it doesn’t make for the most dramatic of stage entrances, it is the dynamism of their vocal harmonies that is on show and which soars around the venue.
Opening with instrumental, ‘The Cascades’ from this year’s critically acclaimed album, ‘Helplessness Blues,’ the group moved onto ‘Grown Ocean’ and ‘Drops In The River’ from their superb Sun Giant EP. Live, the songs dynamics can really be felt, from the quietly strummed guitar parts to the raucous loud crescendos from Robin Pecknold.
Pecknold may not be the most outrageous frontman, but is thoroughly engaging and charismatic in his onstage banter with the audience between numbers. Once the music begins, he play with confidence, letting loose his rapturous voice on songs like ‘The Shrine/An Argument’ and ‘Blue Ridge Mountains’ from their self-titled debut. The band’s multiple harmonies and sonic landscaping are exquisite. During older material such as ‘Mykonos’ and ‘White Winter Hymnal’, the audience joins in the proceeding by adding their rhythmic clap adding an extra level of depth to the songs.
For the two-song encore, Pecknold emerged for a solo outing of ‘Oliver James’, which was faster then on record. He was then joined by his bandmates for a final roaring take on ‘Helplessness Blues’. It’s not long before the volume reaches thunderous levels. Slowly, the nuance of the bands melodies ring loader, and beneath this riotous array of sound, the precision of Fleet Foxes playing presents itself fully. Their impeccable harmonies and skillful playing are pitch perfect bringing the evening to a euphorically received end.