I’ve always found it interesting seeing a band that are often billed as ‘one-hit wonders’ by music fans outside of Indie music. Indie-pop trio Foster The People broke into the mainstream charts a couple of summers ago with their hit single ‘Pumped Up Kicks’, but since have struggled to gain half as much attention as they did when they released that song. As I approach the venue I start to wonder just how good of a live show the band can put on.
Opening track ‘Miss You’ is enough to put my mind at ease – Foster The People are here to stay. The reverb and sharp grooves that lay deep in the mix of the track immediately show that there is a lot more to this band than they are given credit for. The electro-pop sound that the band captured so well on their debut LP ‘Torches’ is prominent on some of the newer songs, but it goes further. Some (almost) psychedelic elements feature on songs such as ‘Pseudologia Fantastica’ which nestles in the heart of the set. It’s a set that moves smoothly along, showing off the different sides to Foster The People which many of the seemingly sold out crowd may not have appreciated before, almost as smoothly as Mark Foster travels across the stage, playing almost every instrument you could think of. ‘Coming Of Age’ is another stand-out track as the crowd find their voice for the irresistibly melodic chorus. There’s a certain confidence about the band which implies they have faith in their sound and are proud of their latest record, but it’s refreshingly real. Sure enough, with the crowd in full voice, the band play ‘Pumped Up Kicks’ soon after. The mums of the crowd unite and scream along to the somewhat haunting lyrics about a murderous teenager. It’s like a Take That concert if Garry Barlow had listened to Nick Cave as a kid. Luckily, the screeching dies with the last bar of that stuttery riff. (It’s worth pointing out though, it’s a brilliant live song) The set really does sell the band to me, they certainly proved their relevance and that they’re much, much more than ‘that band that sing Pumped Up Kicks’. The band mix danceable, feel-good indie songs with some thought-provoking, post-punk lyrics. It’s quite a spectacle at Manchester’s premier music venue.
The band are off stage for a matter of seconds before coming out to encore with the absolutely brilliant ‘Best Friend’ and ‘Don’t Stop (Colour On The Walls). Kudos to the band for, not only not finishing on their biggest hit, but finishing on two excellent tracks which will make sure that everybody who bought a ticket will buy one next time the band visit Manchester.