Review: Foster The People at Enmore Theatre, Sydney, 05 January 2018
Foster the People have touched down in Australia as part of a worldwide tour, including performances at Falls Festival, as well as Sydney and Melbourne sideshows. The band have been travelling nonstop since the release of Sacred Hearts Club in July 2017, and, after Friday’s performance, it seems that the rigorous demands of touring may be catching up with them.
While the band’s musical performance was more or less note perfect, and the songs sounded fantastic, an undercurrent of tiredness and disengagement placed a dampening vibe on the entire show which sadly stopped it from being an otherwise enjoyable night out.
The band have expanded from a three-piece to a six-piece over time, which lay fertile ground for interesting stage antics. While FtP attempted to keep the performance interesting by swapping instruments and evolving the songs into a few improvised moments, band members were overall stagnant and did little to look like they were enjoying the music they were playing.
That said, Mark Foster presented as an excellent lead man – moving all over the stage, swapping between piano, guitar and pure vocals, and riling up fellow band members. He too had an air of tiredness, but did the most of any band member to fight through and provide an engaging performance.
Make no mistake, The show was far from terrible – there were many aspects that made the night enjoyable. The band’s set-list was also a perfect choice of songs, playing all their classics from their first album like ‘Call It What You Want’, ‘Don’t Stop’, and saving the classic ‘Pumped Up Kicks’ for the encore. The also played keepers off their second album, Coming of Age, and bangers from their newer stuff like ‘Loyal Sid and Nancy’ & ‘Sit Next To Me’.
One aspect that FtP really got right was expanding their songs for live performances to explore new territory. Songs would often stretch out for several minutes longer than usual to make room for solos, new lyrics and verses, and even covers of other songs, all of which added greatly to the performance and kept old songs interesting for both the band and the audience.
Highlights include the band segueing into a cover of the Ramones‘ ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’, and the dual drum solo in ‘Houdini’, with Mark taking time to conduct each drummer and drive their intensity in a very whiplash-esque style. Sadly, despite these moments of absolute gold, the show was still marginalised by poor energy from all the members, which led to these moments feeling forced and a little contrived.
Perhaps jet-lag, perhaps the heat? We will never really know.