So much for taking the easy road.
Recently, the five members of Switchfoot decided to start every night of their new U.S. tour by playing their Nov. 10 release, Hello Hurricane, in its entirety. But backstage before Sunday night’s sold-out tour opener at San Diego’s East County Performing Arts Center, the decision was becoming an anxiety-producing reality.
“This is the most challenging thing we’ve ever done,” admitted frontman Jon Foreman. “I mean, we’re starting our shows with nearly 50 minutes of music people haven’t heard yet.”
From the moment the lights went out and Foreman ran into the packed theatre using a bullhorn to sing the first lines of “Needle and Haystack Life,” the hometown crowd clearly didn’t mind.
The band ripped through every song on their new record, in order, stockpiling a few firsts along the way. On the new album’s title track, guitarist Drew Shirley started the song on vocals, the first time he’d ever been mic’d during a live performance. And multi-instrumentalist Jerome Fontamillas busted out the quintet’s first accordion solo ever during their rendition of “Yet.”
Not to be outdone, Foreman and younger brother Tim occasionally traded their guitar and bass, respectively, for turns on the xylophone, timpani, harmonica, and mandolin.
“This is the first time I’ve been nervous in a long while,” Foreman confessed to the audience between songs. But the capacity crowd sang along, clapped in time, and cheered just as strongly to album unknowns as they did to the recently released singles “Mess of Me” and “The Sound.”
The frenzied fans were rewarded for their enthusiasm in the second set, which included at least one selection from each of the band’s seven studio albums.
Fan favorites like “Only Hope” and “Meant To Live” allowed the devoted crowd to really show their love of the music by singing along without any guidance or prompting. At one point, Foreman even turned the mic and let the sea of fans take the lead.
The show ended with Foreman jumping to the floor of the venue and sharing vocals with the audience on “This Is Your Life.” As a spotlight followed him around the room, fans of all ages circled the singer, hung on, chipped in a line or two, and became part of the show.
“You can really feel the love,” Foreman grinned. “You can cut it with a butter knife.”
Set 1: (Hello Hurricane)
“Needle And Haystack Life”
“Mess Of Me”
“Your Love Is A Song”
“The Sound (John M. Perkins’ Blues)”
“Enough To Let Me Go”
“Sing It Out”
“I Dare You To Move”
“Learning To Breathe”
“Meant To Live”
“This Is Your Life”