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Fountains of Wayne - Caught live at Islington Academy


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 squeezed in.

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 to savour.

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.

 

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