Switchfoot at 170 Russell Street: Event Review

Last time Switchfoot graced Melbourne with their heart-pounding riffs, it was under less positive circumstances, and lead singer Jon Foreman left their world tour early to return home to San Diego. Today, as they returned to play to a packed crowd at 170 Russell Street, it was as Foreman said, “A celebration,” and they went all out in one of the best show I have attended.

Opening act Antiskeptic stepped on to the stage with the same energy they possessed in their heyday and front man Andrew Kitchen was clearly at home back on stage. Playing some rock tunes, they also delighted the crowd with some old favourites including, “Beautiful in White” and, “Dancing on the Inside,” which took me back to MySpace days. As soon as they finished their set, there were immediate calls for Switchfoot, and the crowd kept their excitement at a high until the headliners played the first cords of, “Say It Like You Mean It,” and sub sequentially took the roof off.

In my first time seeing Foreman fronting the band, I was amazed at the fearlessness he possessed through the entire set. From soaring vocals, the confidence he aired as he took his band mates on an unexpected and unplanned set list, to the moments he simply stood and marvelled at the roar of the crowd, his presence is something which made the set come alive. He would dive into the bleachers, reaching for the hands of the enamoured audience, before jumping into pit and embracing them with the fullness of the lyrics he sang.

It was so evident this band has been playing together for many years. The guitar hooks of Drew Shirley combined with the drumming of Chad Butler formed a succinct and perfect melody, and Jerome Fontamillas’ mesmerising keys (and occasional guitar) was joined with his backing vocals and the solidity of Tim Foreman’s bass.

Aside from the seemingly effortless delivery of some of their most loved hits- both new and old, the dedication they all showed in taking the audience to a different place was paramount. Whether they were singing into a mic or simply backing up Jon’s conversation with the crowd, they would urge us forward, driving home the lyrics and the overwhelming spiritual revelry that naturally flowed.

From their ethereal performance of “Stars,” to the anthem “When We Come Alive,” and their moving rendition of “Where I Belong,” they delivered to close an hour and a half of non stop energy; not bad considering they were in India less than 48 hours ago! Switchfoot moved us to laugh and cry and sing. Many times I felt as though the roof had evaporated and we were left hearing the sounds of another world.

The bond between this band made the concert all the more unique, the expression on Jon’s face as he watched his brother lead, “What It Costs,” which was written last time they were in Melbourne, shone with love and pride. This intimacy was evident in all of the band’s interactions on stage, and highlighted in their acoustic performance of, “Hello Hurricane.” 

I’ve been to lots of gigs, but after tonight I hold them to a higher standard. The stage presence and performance of Switchfoot was both emotional and empowering, and in many ways they are what a rock band should be. Truly showing they are some of the best in the business, as they return home to record their tenth album they’ve given us plenty of reason to believe the best is yet to come. Set list included, “Say It Like You Mean It,” “Stars,” “This Is The Sound,” “Who We Are,” “Your Love Is A Song,” “Love Alone Is Worth The Fight,” “This Is Your Life,” “What It Costs,” “Hello Hurricane,” “Let It Out,” “When We Come Alive,” “Dare You To Move” and encore “Dark Horses,” “Meant to Live” and “Where I Belong.”