Review and Photography by John Bentley

Foxygen, Liverpool Kazimier, 7-5-15

Foxygen have released some great songs in their career to date, being at times very poppy, but also managing to be interesting, quirky and experimental. However, a major draw to one of their gigs will inevitably be their reputation for seriously unhinged live performances. It’s also been suggested that this might be Foxygen’s last tour, so there are certainly expectations tonight.

H. Hawkline, Liverpool Kazimier, 7-5-15

Support at Liverpool’s Kazimier comes from H. Hawkline, aka Huw Evans, promoting his new Cate Le Bon-produced album, ‘In the Pink of Condition’. If you like Cate Le Bon or the work of idiosyncratic Welsh bands like Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci, you will probably love this. It’s quirky. spikey and melodic and Evans has assembled a great stage band for gigs, including celebrated guitarist Sweet Baboo, who seems to turn up everywhere. On the basis of his new album and tonight’s performance, H. Hawkline is an artist to look out for. However, I’m not sure that he is a best fit as a support for Foxygen, as they seem two geometrically opposite bands.

Foxygen, Liverpool Kazimier, 7-5-15

Foxygen, Liverpool Kazimier, 7-5-15

The main protagonists, singer Sam France and multi-instrumentalist Jonathan Rado, have been making music together in Foxygen since 2005. They’ve raided many musical styles, from psychedelic to glam. Their best received album has been 2013’s cosmically titled ‘We are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic’, which contained gems like ‘San Francisco’, a sort of modern update of a Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazelwood dialogue-duet. While several songs are featured from it tonight, the gig lacks many of the album’s subtler moments. Instead tonight the band seem to be taking their cue from their most recent (lengthy) concept album ‘…And Star Power’, where the idea is that the ensemble are taken over by a band from outer space. Like that album, tonight’s show is therefore whacky and seemingly out of control.

Foxygen, Liverpool Kazimier, 7-5-15

Foxygen, Liverpool Kazimier, 7-5-15

The stage for Foxygen is littered with strange objects, like rag-dolls and a mannequin head, and fairground music plays as the band members come on. Sam France, dressed in a white suit (including flared trousers), arrives from a different direction, pushing his way through the audience in an already fired-up state. He vigorously launches into the title track of ‘We are the 21st Century Ambassadors’. Throughout the evening he is accompanied by three female backing singers and the foursome frantically gyrate together – a tricky business with nine people on a not oversize stage. France throws himself about, almost in spasms, making several brief forays into the audience. His gyrations during songs like ‘Shuggie’ demonstrate a real Mick Jagger inspired swagger. It’s like he really just can’t keep still for one moment. You have to admire his energy and enthusiasm, but as its full-on for the whole show, after a while it does start to distract a little from the actual music.

Foxygen, Liverpool Kazimier, 7-5-15

Rado gets a bit of the spotlight too, flamboyantly clad in what appears to be a stars and stripes, red, white and blue, fringed jacket. He tackles both guitar and keyboards, at one point playing the guitar from the top of a speaker stack. Two other band members theatrically engage in some kind of mad dialogue and guitar fencing.

Foxygen, Liverpool Kazimier, 7-5-15

Foxygen, Liverpool Kazimier, 7-5-15

The band serve up a good helping of audience favourites, but often in a somewhat mashed-up form, as with ‘Can’t Contextualise My Mind’, which ends up as rather a sprawling jam. During the encore, ‘No Destruction’, there is a good-natured stage invasion, which results in yet more dancers on stage. Fortunately the Kazimier is a lovely venue all round and there are no heavy-handed security staff ejecting the revellers. This really has been a gig to see. Rock ‘n’ Roll cranked up to 11 on the dial, to coin an image from ‘Spinal Tap’. The audience are ecstatic by the end, but personally, I would have liked the content and pace to have been a little more varied, with the emphasis a little less on constant theatrics and more on the undoubtedly good songs in Foxygen’s repertoire.

Foxygen, Liverpool Kazimier, 7-5-15

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