Review: Jack Foley
IT'S been two long years since the Fountains of Wayne first hit
the road on their world tour, in support of the Welcome
Interstate Managers album, yet the band did not appear jaded
when they waved farewell at the Islington Academy on Monday night
(August 23, 2004).
The infectious power-rock pop songs that have become their trademark
- thanks to tracks such as Stacy's Mom and Radiation
Vibe - were as feel-good as ever, eclipsing even the magic
of their set at The
Astoria earlier this year.
If anything, this was a more expansive track list, that sounded
all the better for taking place in the acoustically superb Islington
venue, even though it meant that many a Fountains fan had to be
It was a small price to pay given the quality that ensued.
From the early brilliance of tracks such as Sink To The Bottom
and Survival Car (from the eponymous debut), via the
simple but effective likes of Go, Hippie and Denise
(from Utopia Parkway), right through to the shimmering
brilliance of Bright Future in Sales and Mexican
Wine (off Welcome Interstate), this was a night
Throughout, there were references to the imminent journey back
home to New York, most notably in the form of tracks such as Hackensack
and Valley Winter Song, which reflect their roots.
But there was no sense, at any time,
that the band was just going through the motions, counting down
the songs until the inevitable end-of-the-road party.
Lead singer, Adam Schlesinger, was clearly up for it, belting
out track after track with barely a break inbetween, while the
guitars of Chris Collingwood and Jody Young were as exemplary
as ever, even venturing off into cover version territory at certain
points of the evening.
The ever-youthful Brian Young, on drums, was also on mesmerising
form, bringing proceedings to a close with a truly rousing showcase
of his talents.
Yet, there was so much to enjoy that it was difficult to pick
out the highlights.
Forthcoming single, Hey Julie, got the crowd singing
along early on, while rousing versions of Stacy's Mom, Bought
For A Song and Little Red Light had everyone dancing
as a collective whole.
The diversity of the band's songwriting was capably displayed
in the set as well, with moments of acoustic intimacy, such as
the quietly beautiful Troubled Times, sitting comfortably
alongside the 60s psychedelia of No Better Place, or
the out and out rock of crowd favourite, Leave The Biker.
Needless to say, Radiation Vibe, just before the two
encores, brought the biggest cheers, and most hearty sing-alongs
- effortlessly tapping into that West Coast sound that makes listening
to the band such an effortless delight.
So, while the grey clouds of this most rain-hit of Summers may
have been hovering above the streets of Islington, the Fountains
of Wayne ensured that it was the sunshine melodies that prevailed,
as they waved goodbye to the UK.