Concert Review: Switchfoot’s Fantastic Traveling Music Show Pure Gold

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Nothing like the final show of the tour.

Switchfoot closed their Fantastic Traveling Music Show on Sunday in Redding, CA at the Redding Civic Auditorium in a most fantastic way by delivering an unprecedented performance that featured an opening acoustic set followed by a fully plugged in concert awash with lights, strobes and a large stage and setup that suited the band well.

The evening started like a play, the band even used playbills to advertise their partnership with Food for the Hungry, as guitarist Drew Shirley rather humorously narrated the band getting shipwrecked, artfully incorporating historical facts about Redding, before they opened with “Hello Hurricane” and “Love Alone is Worth the Fight.”

Singer Jon Foreman on ukulele

Switchfoot, looking more like Devo to start,  played in front of a shipwrecked scene (a camp fire too!) with the broken boat working as a metaphor of life. Singer Jon Foreman said he surfs when life goes well and writes songs when things go south. Foreman generally doesn’t shy away from expressing his personal life to a room full of fans but on this evening he went even deeper, talking often between songs and explaining how some came to life.

The acoustic set featured just seven songs, all very appropriate choices for the stripped down effect, and included “Joy Invincible,” a fan favorite off their new album they toured earlier this year, written in the waiting room of a hospital and “Your Love is a Song” that came to life after Foreman thought about string theory, of all things.  Foreman, who learned the ukulele for the tour, said the Fantastic Traveling Music Show was dreamed up during a day in San Francisco and ultimately serves as a “thank you” note to fans for sticking with the band through 11 albums and more than 20 years.

Switchfoot starting out their acoustic set for the Fantastic Traveling Music Show

Switchfoot also invited fan requests for the tour and for the acoustic set Redding got the obscure  “Company Car” off 1999’s New Way To Be Human, an album that only had the trio of Foreman, Tim Foreman on bass and drummer Chad Butler, but you’d never know neither Shirley or keyboardist/guitarist Jerome Fontamillas  were new to the song. They closed out the acoustic set with U2’s “With Or Without You” the first song Tim Foreman learned the lyrics to and of course their big hit “Dare You to Move.”

The acoustic set served as an “opening band” of sorts and despite probably 1,500 in attendance it felt more like an intimate performance to friends as Jon Foreman chatted up the crowd often (it was, after all, billed as “An evening of songs and stories”) and the band mostly took their time getting through the short setlist in about an hour.

Jon Foreman (L) and Drew Shirley (R) playing in the acoustic set

Then came Act II.

After a 25 minute intermission, Foreman took the stage with guitar in hand and started into “Daisy” another deep album track, this one from 2005’s Nothing Is Sound, then Tim Foreman walked on, followed by Shirley as the three played then the black curtain behind them dropped and the band was fully plugged in and rocking – even Fontamillas was on guitar for this one.

Switchfoot finally on a big stage with the full accompaniment.

And they used every inch of it looking right at home.

Singer Jon Foreman rocking on guitar

They tore into the great “Stars” off the same album then the title track to Oh! Gravity. another guitar laden song showing the band in their  hard rock element and by now assigned seats were mostly an option as fans moved forward and surrounded the stage. Jon Foreman dedicated “If the House Burns Down Tonight” to the state’s fire fighters, a song born from having to leave your home during a raging fire and coming to realize what’s important something Foreman and California residents know much about.

Switchfoot dialed it back some after four straight heavy hitters with one of their all-time best in the emotional punch of “I Won’t Let You Go.” Then if you weren’t there, well you missed it. Their road crew got them to play the Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage” and you know what, they nailed it. (They also did snippets of Led Zeppelin’s “Ramble On” the Beatles’ “Can’t Buy Me Love” and “Free Fallin’” from Tom Petty in the acoustic set – they did everything!)  It was a fun reprieve from the previous heart-render which got Foreman back in the audience for the second time of the night.

Tim Foreman on bass

They continued with “Native Tongue” off this year’s album of the same name, then they followed with two off Where The Light Shines Through, the poignant “Live It Well” and the awesome “Float” which showered the audience with bubbles. They totally rocked “The Sound” as Foreman headed off stage once again and which also served as the closer for the main set. Switchfoot encored their popular “Meant to Live” and finally finished this night of many firsts with a rain of confetti to “Where I Belong” the last track and only song chosen from Vice Verses.

Singer jon Foreman of Switchfoot
Jon Foreman brought passionate vocals all evening

The 12 song, second set lasted an hour and 15 minutes and completely outpaced the opening acoustic show which at times felt smothered with some of the between song talk when you just wanted to hear what they had in store next. But taken in context, with the band doing something totally different and out of the ordinary, overall, whether it was this genuine thank you to fans, the venue (pretty great place, by the way), or the final show, Switchfoot outdid themselves.

So they better come up with something good on the next tour because they set the bar for Switchfoot concerts and set it pretty high.

Switchfoot Fantastic Traveling Music Show Setlist at Redding Civic Auditorium

Act 1

  1. Hello Hurricane
  2. Love Alone is Worth the Fight
  3. Joy Invincible
  4. Your Love is a Song
  5. Company Car
  6. With Or Without You (U2 cover)
  7. Dare You To Move

Act 2

  1. Daisy
  2. Stars
  3. Oh! Gravity.
  4. If the House Burns Down Tonight
  5. Won’t Let You Go
  6. Sabotage (Beastie Boys cover)
  7. Native Song
  8. Live It Well
  9. Float
  10. The Sound
  11. Meant to Live
  12. Where I Belong

5 comments

  1. Great review and pics Andrew! Man your ace at taking pics!
    Cool to read they went outside there comfort zone and did something different which always leaves one feeling satisfied that they got their money worth after the show!

  2. Dang Drew, that sounds like a fantastic show. I love they played “If the House Burns Down Tonight” as it is one of my favorites and nice to see some deep cuts too! Great stuff.

    1. Ha! I actually thought of you when they played it because of you comments on the 10 Best Songs list! It was great too. I see why you like it so much.

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