Live Review: Fleet Foxes – Manchester Apollo

Fleet Foxes clearly love Manchester Apollo (sponsoring phone company not to be mentioned). They’ve played these hallowed halls upon each visit to the city since 2008, and it’s a room that certainly suits them. They also leave a heck of a long time in-between each visit, having only played three times previously in the past fifteen years prior to this weekend. But as they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder! And with each visit, they bring an even more sensational set with them.

On Saturday evening, the band strolled on to the stage with support act Uwade accompanying them and lending her sumptuous vocals to set-opener ‘Wading in Waist‐High Water’. 2 minutes in and the crowd were already falling deeply back in love with the five-piece, welcoming them back to the city with thunderous applause, resulting in a huge grin on the face of frontman Robin Pecknold. He would go on to make it clear that was the best crowd they’ve had in Manchester, and certainly one of the best throughout the tour. Would else would you expect!?

Like with all bands and artists, the pandemic played a huge part in Fleet Foxes’ output. For Pecknold, he moved mid-lockdown and holed up in New York, spending his time on what would be their gorgeous fourth record, Shore, which was released one day after being announced in September 2020. Many have been waiting with eager-anticipation for the past two years, to finally hear tracks from this record played live. The Mancunian-crowd were not left disappointed, as the three opening songs from Shore led us into what would be an outstanding evening.

All four albums were wonderfully delved into, creating a setlist that was hit after hit. Their mainstay of rich and beautiful harmonies were a delight to hear once again, Christopher Icasiano’s rolling drums were a welcome addition and a three-piece brass outfit that came and went from the stage; added deep, layered tones throughout. This was particularly evident on tracks such as ‘Third of May/Ōdaigahara’, as well as a stunning cover of Judee Sill’s ‘The Kiss’, where sorrowful brass and profound keys supported a spotlighted Pecknold and his tender vocals.

Another delightful highlight was a performance of ‘Phoenix’, a track that features on the recent Big Red Machine record How Long Do You Think It’s Gonna Last?, to which Pecknold leant his vocals alongside Justin Vernon and Anaïs Mitchell.

Fleet Foxes will always be a beloved band, but when long-awaited shows are so wonderfully crafted and delivered, gifting the audience with spellbinding performances of fan-favourites and stunning ‘new’ tracks throughout, one doesn’t mind waiting four years between shows! See you in 2026 Fleet Foxes – our hearts will be fonder still.

Dom Kay