You guys remember Switchfoot, right? “Stars”? “Meant to Live”? Well, maybe not, but the quaint little crowd at Newport Music Hall Thursday sure did.
The Royal Concept got the night off to a rip-roaring start, surprising the audience with its techno vocals and high energy.
But moving along to the main attraction, Switchfoot did not disappoint. The alternative rock band from San Diego began with a song from its latest album “Fading West” called “Say It Like You Mean It,” which transitioned into “Let It Out,” also from its most recent album.
The band then took the crowd back in time to their 2005 hit “Stars.” I am not sure if it was the band-wide Keith Urban / Ellen DeGeneres haircuts, the thick mustache on the drummer or the alcohol coursing through their veins, but the crowd was into it.
Lead singer Jon Foreman utilized the intimacy of the Newport by repeatedly entering into the crowd and maneuvering around the audience on the gate that surrounds the pit. One of those times was during “Love Alone Is Worth The Fight,” where Jon sang the entire song balancing on the fencing, pausing between measures to high-five and take selfies with the fans.
On his way back up to the stage, he spotted a sign that requested the band to play “Dark Horses.” He decided then to pull the young man responsible for the sign up on stage and have him perform the song on his instrument of choice. The young man chose to shred “Dark Horses” on the drums. Surprisingly, he did a very good job.
It was refreshing to see something as unexpected as that at a concert, but what came next canceled out the spontaneity of the guest drummer: the song “Dare You To Move.” Great song, everyone knows it, you cannot blame them for playing it, but it has been run into the ground. Then came “When We Come Alive,” and “Meant to Live.” The fans really got into “Meant to Live,” particularly the children standing to my right and left up on the balcony. They were all boys, and they all appeared to be in junior high, so you can probably imagine the ungodly sounds coming out of their peach fuzz covered lips as they tried to sing along. I appreciated their effort, and I am sure the band appreciated such an interest in these kids because besides those boys, the most energetic people in the crowd (and closest to the stage) looked to be in their late 60s.
There was a quick intermission to celebrate the second guitarist’s and the drummer’s birthdays, but Switchfoot picked it right back up again with “Your Love Is A Song.” The fans, again, gave a pretty decent reaction but for some reason, a “Free Bird” chant began somewhere in the beer-guzzling crowd below when the song was wrapping up. The band acknowledged the request, shared that they had opened for Lynyrd Skynyrd at one point in their career and promised the fans that next time they were in Ohio, they would have “Free Bird” prepared. The chant continued as Switchfoot began its last set, “Where I Belong.” The crowd quickly abandoned their demand for Skynyrd and started chanting “one more song,” immediately after the band exited the stage.
I think encores are protocol these days, but regardless, Foreman and his crew re-entered the stage and rocked Newport again with “The Sound” from their “Hello Hurricane” album. Switchfoot signed off with a few final cymbal crashes, guitar strums and a “God bless you, Ohio, goodnight!”