Switchfoot brought an arena style rock concert to a boisterous sold-out show at the Crystal Ballroom in Portland on Sunday for their Fading West tour.
Lasers, immense stage lighting and rear stage video screens added an element to the performance the band had yet to incorporate into their live show. The efforts along with the usual solid playing fans have come to expect from the San Diego-based quintuplet proved to be Switchfoot’s best ever concert.
The evening started with the aggressive “Say It Like You Mean It” from the band’s latest album which was followed by the equally bombastic “Stars.” The second of seven songs off Fading West, “Who We Are” was next which backed off the pace a bit. For the only sour note of the evening, it was by now apparent that lead singer Jon Foreman’s vocals were a bit tired coming off three concerts in a row. His vocals sounded parched from the start and cracked at times through the first four songs.
Somehow, he managed to resurrect his voice by “All Or Nothing At All,’’ fifth-up on the night, and his vocals were relatively flawless the rest of the show.
Switchfoot played the obligatory “Dare You to Move” and “Meant to Live” the latter sounding rather fresh thanks to the band incorporating a soft opening featuring the band’s keyboardist Jerome Fontamillas on an accordion and Foreman on acoustic before the rest of the band surged in for a rock hard ending.
The band switched up the tempo and added additional elements to nearly every song but at the same time kept the integrity of the album version. The result showed the band’s versatility and ability to mix things up a bit as they played every song like a well-oiled machine and the added dynamics prevented any drag on the evening as the audience greeted each song rapturously.
Guitarist Drew Shirley fortified every song with solid rock rhythms and showed off some serious mettle with a solo on “Your Love Is A Song.” He provided some fierce chords on a number of rhythmic tangent’s the band peppered most of the songs with. Long standing drummer and band co-founder Chad Butler really shined on the set opener and closer “The Sound.”
“Dark Horses,” one of Switchfoot’s best songs, rocked with that opening guitar riff and featured an excellent bass from Tim Foreman and heavy drums from Butler.
Just over halfway through the evening for the Coldplay sounding “When We come Alive,” Foreman left the main stage and sang against a wall to the crowd in the middle of the packed room. Foreman clearly loves his role as front man but the display also shows just how tight this band plays.
He rolled right into “Love Alone Is Worth The Fight” and walked back to the main stage through the crowd high-fiving anyone with an outstretched arm. Meanwhile the band played along seemingly without any visual cues from Foreman who seemed at times to improvise his way getting the audience to sing along with him.
Switchfoot closed out the set with the great pop song off Fading West “Let it Out,” audience favorite “Meant To Live” and finally a nod to Easter with “Where I Belong,” from of 2011’s Vice Verses.
Though foreman said the Crystal Ballroom is one of his favorite places to play its pretty evident the band, along with the current tour’s stage show, is not only ready but seems willing to step up to the next level of performance. This requires an upgrade in venue.
A head-lining arena band Switchfoot is probably not, but a larger venue like the Schnitzer or Keller Auditorium in Portland is begging their arrival. Many times a stage or venue swallows a band but on Sunday, Switchfoot engulfed and proved too big for the stuffy Crystal.
Additionally, Switchfoot needs to up the ante on their nightly setlist. A band with a strong catalog of songs from nine albums should play more than 90 minutes and 15 songs. Switchfoot arrived a long time ago and it’s time they acted like a band that belongs. In fact, the only thing that could have improved on Sunday’s performance was five or six more songs. No “Mess of Me,” “Afterlife,” “Oh! Gravity” “Awakening” or anything from their first two albums. Switchfoot is closing in on 20 years and they have the chops to put on an extensive show.
The encore included the ominous “BA55” with another great bass line and fantastic drum cadence that Butler plays methodically. Finally, the band closed with “The Sound” and of course finished with another jam that left the audience wanting more.
Switchfoot Portland (Crystal Ballroom) Fading West Tour Setlist:
- Say It Like You Mean It
- Who We Are
- This Is Your Life
- All Or Nothing At All
- Your Love Is A Song
- Dare You To Move
- Dark Horses
- When We Come Alive
- Love Alone Is Worth The Fight
- Let It Out
- Meant To Live
- Where I Belong
- The Sound