Switchfoot – Belfast, Limelight 1 – 28 October 2017 Print E-mail
Written by Jonni D   
Tuesday, 07 November 2017 04:20

It’s a tale of two gigs at the Limelight on the evening of Switchfoot’s first return to Belfast since 2011.  Orange Goblin will be delivering their no-frills brand of stoner metal to a punctually congregated audience of ragamuffin rockers at the Limelight 2, while the San Diego surf rockers play to a much more reserved, clean cut demographic at the co-joining Limelight 1.  Initial confusion over exact gig locations leads to some amusing interaction between the two clans, who mix as effectively as Marmite in a Slush Puppy.  Nevertheless, with everyone at their respective stations, musical proceedings can begin.


Belfast Limelight crowd


The sole support act for Switchfoot comes in the form of Yorkshire four-piece, Alvarez Kings, looking more like they just stepped out of an H&M advert than a touring van.  Despite their single ‘No Resolve’ recently getting some traction on daytime pop radio, it’s clear from the offset that the crowd is largely unfamiliar with their wispy indie rock.  Things get off to a rough start for the band thanks to a particularly muddy sound mix.  However, there’s not that much of an improvement when the audio issues are eventually rectified. 


With a heavy reliance on delayed guitar effects and electronic beats, their songs are reminiscent of recent 30 Seconds To Mars material, with an added dose of the over-earnest stylings of Top 40 radio acts such as One Republic.  Despite the aforementioned ‘No Resolve’ and ‘Sleepwalking Pt.2’, there’s an overwhelming lack of discernible songs on offer here.  Although Alvarez Kings may have won over a few in attendance to their cause, in a live setting they’re about as adrenalizing as a bubble bath.


Switchfoot tour poster


Emerging to a somewhat more rapturous response, Switchfoot kick off their set with the garage-rock injection of ‘Afterlife’, before the massive choruses of fan-favourites ‘Stars’ and ‘Oh Gravity’ finally bring some momentum to the evening.  The band are on particularly amiable and energetic form tonight, with frontman Jon Foreman relishing the novelty of playing such an intimate venue; accustomed as they are to relatively larger stages back in the States.  He makes the most of this intimate setting though, jovially conversing back and forth with fans between songs and gradually making his way through the crowd to the merch stand at the rear of the venue during a rousing performance of ‘Bull In A China Shop.’ 


“We want tonight to feel more like a community,” Jon explains, before the band performs ‘Hello Hurricane’ around a solitary microphone, acoustic guitars and snare drum at the ready.  If anything, this provides a fairly succinct summation of the show tonight; coming across as more of a considerably large campfire singalong than an actual gig, such is the lack of audience participation from this overly tepid crowd. 


The band can’t help but grin their way through a cover of ‘The Boys Are Back In Town’, before a well-received succession of slower songs proves what the majority of the audience are looking for from tonight’s set.  Bubble machines arrive onstage for the first encore of ‘Float’, before the band sign off with their career defining hit, ‘Dare You To Move.’  In terms of onstage performance, Switchfoot provide an at times high octane, energizing set of quick-fire anthems amidst their more atmospheric ballad material.  While they pull both off commendably well, it’s a shame that their dedication to performance isn’t met with a more lively response from the attendees. 


However, it’s pretty obvious that the fans got exactly what they wanted from the experience; a comfortably safe evening of positive rock n’ roll anthems.


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