Thursday, September 25, 2008

LOVE and Fleet Foxes

Hey y'all. I had a double dose of super-quality entertainment this week.

On Monday night, I went to see Cirque Du Soleil's LOVE, featuring the music of the Beatles. It was spectacular. I had the soundtrack, but it was simply listening to remixes without the mind-bending visuals that the Cirque's performers provide. The whole event was a highlight, from the instrumentals played as an overture with which my friend Mikey and I sang along. Within the show, though, I thought they hit their stride with the pieces that accompanied Being For The Benefit of Mr. Kite/I Want You (She's So Heavy), Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds and Come Together. I don't think it's a coincidence that those are some of John's most visually stimulating compositions. Mr. Kite/I Want You featured the most terrifying, gravity defying high stage trick I've ever seen and samples of Helter Skelter's vocals. Lucy featured some awesome aerial ballet to go along with a bit of sensory deprivation. And Come Together had great choreography that had the dancers reappearing on stage as lights went out and came up. Frankly, I cannot do the show any justice with the typewriter. Go to Vegas and witness it.

On Tuesday night, I saw and met the present and future of music. Fleet Foxes brought down the El Rey with their new brand of Americana. I've been touting their records to anyone who will listen, but their live show is actually more monumental than their CD and EP. Fleet Foxes are led by 22 year-old Robin Pecknold, an unassuming and utterly charming young man. His band mates added rich harmonies, spirited playing and lots of playful banter about Michael Phelps, the economy and "baby smooches." They started with an a cappella piece, Sun Giant, and threw down the gauntlet. Very daring in this day and age of auto-tuned and bland vocals. Songs from the records like He Doesn't Know Why, White Winter Hymnal and (my favorite) English House benefited enormously from the organic live setting and the additional harmony parts. It was Robin's vocals and lyricism, however, that had the audience in throes, especially on the handful of occasions where he took solo acoustic spotlights.

To say that the night was a spiritual experience would be accurate. There were moments when the performances were moving to the core. Oliver James felt like we were hearing the next big thing. Tender and intimate, Mr. Pecknold nailed these showcase pieces as if his life depended on delivering the goods.

To see this group hitting its stride in such a small venue was a real treat. Patty and I discussed how Fleet Foxes are an important band. So few artists are trying to be this melodic, let alone harmonious. I've been spoiled and want to see them again. Now! They added Ragged Wood to their encore along with Blue Ridge Mountain. These numbers are complex pop suites. Neil Young meets the Beach Boys meet Aaron Copeland. It's deep like that.

I had a chance to speak briefly with Robin. I'm always amazed to meet artists that young who have a solid artistic vision; a sophistication beyond their years. Don't let the shocked look on his face fool you, he was very warm in our conversation, the flash just went off twice. He's going to be a household name soon. If Fleet Foxes don't wind up with multiple Grammy nods, a spot on SNL and a place in your music collection, something is wrong with the world. God bless Fleet Foxes.

I know my reviews have not come close to how I feel about both experiences. Suffice it to say, I got my money's worth.

Happy Birthday to Mikey and Patty. Congrats to Mikey and Amanda. Thanks for the excuse to meet you in Vegas and go with you to LOVE. Love is all you need.

Peace & Rustic Beats


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