FLEET Foxes shouldn’t be held accountable for the so-called “millennial whoop,” that wordless vocal chant oh so painfully familiar from practically every generic R&B pop single and earnest alt-folk record of the last 10 years.
Kelvingrove Bandstand, Glasgow ****
Forgive them, for they knew not what they wrought when they released their stunning debut album in 2008. If anyone has the right to use that sound, though, it’s this soulfully cerebral sextet from Seattle. The bearded hipsters and arrivistes who followed in their wake missed the point.
Based around the baroque, sensitive yet never drippy “acid folk” songs of lead vocalist Robin Pecknold, Fleet Foxes are famed for their open-throated harmonies. Hearing those voices in powerfully pristine unison on stage is breath-taking.
They synthesise the likes of Crosby, Stills & Nash, Simon & Garfunkel and the psychedelic Beach Boys into their own unique, dewy woodland sound. Often described as an Americana band, Celtic folk influences are just as prevalent.
Their songs and harmonies are carefully arranged, there are no extraneous notes, but they never sound overly tasteful. At their best, as on the circular likes of Mykonos and White Winter Hymnal, they sound positively mystical and unearthly. Other highlights included Pecknold’s pin-drop solo acoustic performance of If You Need To, Keep Time On Me.
Multi-instrumentalist Morgan Henderson is their secret weapon. He adds rich, eccentric textures via upright bass, flute, tuba and even skronking free jazz saxophone.
This rather magical amphitheatre performance proved that Fleet Foxes are spheres ahead of their whooping imitators.