Switchfoot sets Norwich alight with love songs
California rockers Switchfoot took the LCR at UEA by storm last week as their 'Looking for Europe' tour came to Norwich, with a powerful, energetic performance that thrilled the audience.
Review by Mark Heybourne, photos by Stuart Ling
‘Every song tonight is a love song’ declares Jon Foreman the charismatic front man of Switchfoot as his energetic band start up a pulsating guitar intro to their next tune ‘Songs about a love that can overcome violence, a love that can overcome all that is against us, a love that is consuming all consuming, a love that is transcending’ ...Its stirring poetic imagery in a high energy music performance packed with positive life affirming moments.
Before Switchfoot took to the stage support act Alvarez Kings from Yorkshire impressed the UEA crowd with songs made up of electronic dance beats covered with layers of rock guitar. Even as early as their second song they hand some of the crowd moving and clapping along and by the end of their set they had clearly made many new fans.
As good as Alvarez Kings were you could feel the excitement build as the stage was prepared for the arrival of Switchfoot. They are a hugely successful global rock band from San Diego California those international success had been built on millions of LP sales and consistent chart success in America. This Norwich date on their ‘Looking for Europe Tour’ was a smaller intimate gig for a band that are well used to selling out much bigger venues at home. There were whistles and shouts in the crowd as stage time approached but when the lights first went down it was for a brilliant musical video talking about the bands partnership with the charity Food for the Hungry and how you could get involved - straight away you saw this was a band that wanted to use their music as a force for good, to shine a light on things where we can make a difference.
The band hit the stage and as the first chords of Holy Water were struck the charisma and energy of the band was immediately apparent. Switchfoot have a reputation as a thrilling live band that connect and involve the audience and though this reviewer had never seen them before nor even listened to a single song before tonight’s gig I was swept up by the sheer joy and camaraderie of the stage performance. There wasn't a single song where the crowd wasn't singing, dancing and clapping along - urged along by band who seemed to enjoy playing together as much as the crowd enjoyed the songs. Even the new songs from the latest LP ‘Where the light shines through’ went down as well as their big chart topping hits thanks to the way the band worked the crowd with lead singer Jon constantly moving around the large UEA stage and memorably leaving the stage a couple of times to come right into the audience to dance and sing while his band mates continued to rock powerfully on stage.
There were musical highlights a plenty - Hello Hurricane (introduced thoughtfully as a song about when life throws all manner of hurt and tragedy at us), the stunning driving guitar rock of If the House Burns Down Tonight, Where I Belong (when Jon picked from the audience up a flag decorated with the words and draped it round him) and the sublime Life is short:
Life is short; I wanna live it well
One life, one story to tell
Life is short; I wanna live it well
And you're the one I'm living for
Awaken all my soul
Every breath that you take is a miracle
Life is short; I wanna live it well, yeah
The songs were about love, the audience was full of love for the songs and there was a great love and friendship demonstrated on stage between band mates and touchingly for the stage crew and sound guys. No one’s contribution was left unrecognised and unthanked and it all added to an evening where you felt connected to each other and uplifted.
Switchfoot are my new favourite band, I am very grateful that Black & White Live brought the tour to Norwich and that local churches such as Soul Church, Proclaimers and St Thomas encouraged their students and young people to attend. I hope we see Switchfoot back here again.
Words Mark Heybourne Photos Stuart Ling