Review: Jack Foley
STACYS Mom has been getting around a bit, it seems.
Her popularity is such that her biggest fans, The Fountains of
Wayne, had to move their London gig from the tight confines of
the Islington Academy to the far more high-profile of The Astoria,
on Wednesday, March 3, 2004.
Yet the new-found notoriety that Stacys Mom has
brought to the New York-based quartet stood them in good stead
for their first capital date in years, ensuring that the vibe
was as hot as the radiation they occasionally sang about, throughout
their tight set.
The Fountains of Wayne are often credited with being the masters
of the three and a half minute power-rock pop song, and their
flair for song-writing was gleefully in abundance at The Astoria
- even if the same sense of cheeky individualism and fun doesnt
always translate to the way they carry themselves on stage.
Lead singer, Adam Schlesinger, adopted a very work-manlike approach
to proceedings early on, almost looking overwhelmed by the masses
in front of him. Yet it didnt detract from the quality of
the music, or the sheer joy contained within most of their music.
The Fountains of Wayne, while seemingly on the cusp of wider
popularity than ever before in the UK, have actually been delivering
the insanely catchy likes of Stacys Mom since 1997,
and have sporadically appeared in the limelight, with singles
such as Radiation Vibe and Troubled Times.
And while they may hail from Americas East Coast, their
sound is more commonly associated with the West Coast vibe of
the Californian dream, eschewing the values of middle America
with an effortless breeze.
Many of their records seem tailor-made for the soundtracks of
American college movies, such as American Pie, given their ability
to perk you up, and make you feel good about yourself.
And yet, with the most recent album, last years Welcome
Interstate Managers, they also hinted at darker material, discovering
an acoustic intimacy, with a hint of 60s psychedelia, and even
It is a credit to their versatility that, in spite of their singles,
the band is difficult to pigeon-hole; proving equally adept at
Oasis-inspired anthems, as they are at the type of record that
is Stacies Mom.
Anyone who has heard their latest album will appreciate what
Im talking about, while anyone who hasnt, really ought
to rush out and grab it.
The album, much like the band, is an over-looked gem. Needless
to say, the gig was a little classic.
Kicking off with the rousing rock anthem, Bought For A Song,
the concert then took us on a whirlwind tour of the new albums
finest moments, as well as some choice cuts from both their eponymous
debut, and Utopia Parkway.
Mexican Wine and Bright Future in Sales were their
self-confessed drinking anthems, laced with irony, while Hackensack
was a heartfelt lament about a lost love, inspired by the personal
experience of living in their hometown.
The gig flitted between fully plugged in and electric with an
effortless abandon, even calling on the musical talents of the
road crew, for the more expansive Hey Julie, which required the
use of too many instruments for the band themselves.
Guitarist and co-writer, Chris Collingwood, demonstrated a nice
line in deadpan humour, at certain points, announcing that the
band would be getting intellectual at some stages,
while Jody Youngs guitar work and Brian Youngs drums
never missed a trick.
From the back catalogue, an extended, even mixed-up, version
of Radiation Vibe, as well as classic tracks, Barbara
H and Sink to the Bottom, got the biggest sing-along
reaction, while Troubled Times, at the start of the first
encore, was a sublime demonstration of acoustic brilliance.
At the end of the evening, the band promised that their return
to the UK wouldnt take so long - a pledge which brought
a delighted reaction. Lets hope that they stick to their
word, for we are all in love with the band behind Stacys