There were grey skies; a storm outside and torrential rain, yet on this summer’s night in Sydney inside the Enmore could’ve been a balmy day down Bondi Beach. Why? Because punters were treated to two fabulous young bands performing their own unique blend of sunny tunes with nary a care in the world and plenty of gusto.
Last Dinosaurs were on first and seemed a little beside themselves with the whole shebang. They first thought they hadn’t played a 45-minute set in so long but on reflection discovered they’d never played for this long. The solution was to go out and delve into their back catalogue (like their debut EP) for some songs. They delivered the goods and won over some equally enthusiastic new fans. By playing music that is as youthful and fun as Yves Klein Blue and with these guys on the verge of releasing a debut long-player, they certainly seem poised to pick up where the former left off.
‘Alps’ was buoyant rock music with lots of sweet flourishes before ‘Time & Place’ picked us up and sailed us away to Jamaica. There were sounds that could have been made by a Rastafarian with a kettledrum, cool attitude and lots of golden light. It was then time for a detour to Hawaii and more specifically, ‘Honolulu’. This one was all about the soundtrack to a proper summer where you have clean white sand between your toes, ice-cream melting down your front and a sea as blue and still as a cloudless sky. People smiled and swayed in recognition at this and the guys capped off their set with ‘Zoom,’ a more rocking track with hints of Papa vs. Pretty; it thankfully retained its peaches and cream-like charm and buttery goodness.
At 10 o’clock the Enmore was full and the audience were pumped up (not necessarily with kicks because that’d come later) in anticipation of their favourite band, Foster The People. ‘Houdini’ set the energy surging high in the room and for those afraid they’d peak to early they most certainly didn’t because the set was like a never-ending bag of musical tricks.
Part of the appeal of Foster The People has gotta be in the inclusive nature of it all. The guys look like their audience and in reality you probably could’ve gotten just about any random audience member to come up and have a go and a good number of people wouldn’t be able to spot the difference. Then combine this with the genuine enthusiasm the guys seem to have for their music and performing in general. Make sure you mix this with a well-timed set of lights shone up the front and it doesn’t take a genius to see the crowd feeding off the band and vice versa.
That said, the real star of tonight’s show was Mark Foster because the guy seems to be able to do just about everything. He plays guitar, keyboards and percussion. He sings and obviously writes but perhaps most famously, he can pull out a mean dance-move or ten. So in ‘Miss You’ for instance, we had some of the awkward motion for which Blondie’s Deborah Harry is known, some of the dicky-like bop that Guineafowl do well and some cheekiness to rival The Drums’ Jonathan Pierce.
‘Life On The Nickel’ had keys that seemed to sit somewhere between The Cure’s eastern-flavoured ‘Let’s Go To Bed’ and a computer game. This got everyone clapping with its intergalactic nature, buzzing fizz and almost disco trickery. The songs from their debut album, Torches came through thick and fast with ‘I Would Do Anything For You,’ ‘Don’t Stop (Color On The Walls)’ and the optimism-fueled, ‘Waste’.
Foster thanked us for our support because Australia had been one of the first places to break the band. It was easy to see why this was the case with their excellent songs including ‘Broken Jaw’ sharing a few things in common with our homegrown talent, Midnight Juggernauts.
The audience were one of the best-behaved groups I have ever encountered. From start to the finish they had their arms or fingers pointed up in the air. The guys would only need a dollar for each time they saw this in order to retire tomorrow. The crowd danced, smiled and in ‘Call It What You Want’ when Foster tripped, they were rooting for him to get back up on the figurative horse and continue. I’d wager that these guys will be a big hit at the Big Days Out around the country.
The boys then decided to do a cover of Weezer’s ‘Say It Ain’t So’. Foster told us a story about how he moved back to LA when he was 18 and was writing songs on the guitar with Weezer’s Blue Album proving a big influence. Little did he know that in the coming years Rivers Cuomo and Co. would cover a Foster The People song! This number was a big one that meant there were some almighty shoes to fill but it was quite easily lost on the majority of the youngsters who just wanted to dance and listen to Torches. But when they performed ‘Helena Beat’ all was right in the world again because it included the funniest sight. A woman was sitting on her friend’s shoulders and was moshing with a large pink, inflatable mic. As you do.
The crowd were well and truly hooked so there was always going to be an encore. This included an unreleased ballad with Foster at the keys and the kids with their spirit fingers in the air swaying and getting their camera phones out. It was a pretty pop number with electronic flourishes and like a lot of their material had hints of the Foals before a tribal-like ‘Warrant’ was served.
But all good things must come to an end and ‘Pumped Up Kicks’ was the one everyone had come out to see. The set closer created goose bumps and we watched this under coloured lights with everybody singing and pumping up their fists high in the air. There was an extended solo and some dancing in the shadows before Foster came up to the barrier to belt out a final chorus and clasp a few lucky fans’ hands.
Foster The People had proven themselves to be worthy of every bit of hype that’s been thrown in their direction as of late. Their songs are stellar, their live show genuine, enthusiastic, fun and just plain exemplary. Call it what you want but when you consider that people could’ve been watching the tennis, seeing a movie or doing a myriad of other things, this band proved that there is nothing that meets the almost drug-like euphoria of seeing an amazing live act in the zone.
Originally published on 27 January 2012 at the following website: http://www.pagesdigital.com/review-foster-the-people-enmore-theatre/
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