Switchfoot packs the Queen Elizabeth Theatre with feel-good vibes

Photo by Chris Hershman
Photo by Chris Hershman

Switchfoot in Vancouver February 3rd, 2017

“We play these songs because we believe hope deserves an anthem,” said Jon Foreman, lead singer of California alternative rock band Switchfoot. Last Friday night saw the group in the downtown sector of Vancouver and playing in the “fanciest” venue they ever have in B.C. The Queen Elizabeth Theatre—which functioned unusually by general admission for this particular show—was filled to the brim with mostly young fans. Alcohol was virtually non-existent, making the whole evening rather wholesome. This is to be expected, as Switchfoot is most known to be embraced by churchgoers; their Grammy awards have been earned from the Gospel department. Still, as mentioned previously here, Switchfoot tends to transcend the barriers of genre in that regard and the concert was by no means a Christian-oriented affair.

A West Coast stop on their Looking for Canada tour, the group opened the concert with Foreman shown on the big screen singing “Holy Water” and dancing before he actually made it to the stage; the whole display was very Chris Martin. Following fellow Gospel scene group Relient K, Switchfoot proved off the bat that they had the whole live act thing toned and crafted to their specific preference; they have after all had twenty years to do so. The guitarists and bassist insisted on mounds of cheesy guitar moves and stage jumps. However, these kinds of antics were most likely well received by the younger concertgoers.

When the first familiar chord progressions of “Meant to Live” rang through the Queen Elizabeth, it was evident that many life-long fans were there. This song is—melodically—Switchfoot at their darkest, which does not come too often anymore. Old school hit “Gone” was a surprise setlist inclusion, and fans were more than happy to sing along with, “Life is more than money, time was never money, time was never cash, life is still more than girls, life is more than hundred dollar bills…” It was songs like these from their first major label and post-A Walk to Remember album The Beautiful Letdown that tipped off listeners about the uniquely lyric and guitar-heavy self-proclaimed ‘singers of hope.’

Singing the title track, “”Live It Well”, and “I Won’t Let You Go” from their tenth and latest album Where the Light Shines Through, Switchfoot projected a very hopeful and optimistic attitude onto the swaying crowd. The themes seemed to be progress and faith as Foreman spoke on the current state of his country: “If you look different than me, if you believe different than me, if you vote different than me, you are my brother, you are my sister. My faith has never been in Washington.”

These are of course things that performers cannot seem to escape commenting on lately, and Switchfoot did so eloquently: “We are reminded how kind Canada is to foreigners,” Foreman said of visiting his northern neighbour.

For an acoustic treat, the boys gathered front-stage center and sang the uplifting, post-Columbia Records title-track “Hello Hurricane,” an endearing ‘song of hope’ to the tune of a light accordion. After an all to quick interlude of “The Shadow Proves the Sunshine”—one of the lovelier song on their 2005 album Nothing Is Sound, Switchfoot flew into newbie “If the House Burns Down Tonight” and beloved politically boisterous oldie “The Sound (John M. Perkins’ Blues).

With plenty of brotherly love onstage—bassist Tim Foreman is Jon’s brother, but really all five of them act like brothers—the room, while largely teenage and early-twenties heavy, felt light and happy. Closing out the encore with the ultimate Switchfoot and A Walk to Remember fan favourite “Dare You To Move”, the group’s Vancouver visit gave us a much-needed does of positive energy.