The hubbub of acclaim that follows Fleet Foxes' every deft footstep on this inaugural British tour is deafening. Pundits are handing out plaudits as though there were going out of fashion, heaping praise on the band's debut self-titled album by the truck load. In just a few short months the group have acquired a mystique and heritage well beyond their time on the stage, and excited a grand wave of expectation.

This, perhaps, explains why this student union in the heart of London is filled to the rafters an hour before this evening's performance. The ULU has little in the way of grace at the best of times – the local speciality is a warm, over-priced, lager in a plastic cup – and this evening the venue is particularly on form, attempting to drown out support Beach House with their own sound. Everything is placed too high in the mix, leaving this three-piece ensemble - not lacking in subtlety and grace - to drown in their own oeuvre.

The moment Fleet Foxes step onto the stage the sticky floors, over-cramped conditions and terrible sound all, however, disappear. The group have an immediate presence – opening with 'Sun Giant' - and their virtually a cappella introduction hushes the crowd in a moment. Their sound, in the live arena, is largely classic rock – but with the ends sanded down to form a beautiful amalgamation; including British and American folk heritage with touches of psychedelic colour. The imagery contained within the music is also a further draw; filled with vivid imagery of pastoral landscapes, distant mountain ranges and endless horizons.

At the centre Robin Pecknold performs seated, the focus of the band. It is he that sets the tempo and direction of the performance, occasionally ushering his band into the wings and offering a solo, acoustic number. One such track is a cover of American singer-songwriter Judee Sill. Sill is infamous for her tortured, heroin-wracked voice, but Pecknold manages to imbue her 'Crayon Angels' with a tempered, knowing character. It is as though he has known the song all his life, merely keeping it a personal secret and releasing it only when the time is right.

There is a great simplicity in the building blocks employed by Fleet Foxes. Voice is the main driving force of the group, with members frequently combining to create wondrous harmonies which would make other bands blush, but here are employed with beautiful resolve. Occasionally the group embellish this with a fully fledged bank, but the majority of the setting is provided by acoustic instruments only, giving the sound an honest, natural pose. Towards the end the young Pecknold jokes that he "spends most of his time in his bedroom", and offers customary platitudes, thanking the audience for their attendance. But, tonight at least, the pleasure is all the audience's and it looks as though the growing legion of fans won't allow Pecknold to hunker down in his basement for a moment longer.












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