Alex Henry Foster supports The Pineapple Thief with a short, 30-minute set which represents his return to touring after lockdown. Alex Henry Foster was in the middle of a tour supporting …Trail of the Dead when lock-down arrived in 2020 and thankfully, he has lost none of the stage presence or enthusiasm for live performance in the hiatus. Foster has a captivating delivery in the almost spoken-word passages within his songs. He gesticulates and growls like a pulpit-chewing priest. His emotions reflect the music which soars and pulses taking the audience on the musical-equivalent of a cinematic, emotional journey through some grand natural landscape.
Alex Henry Foster and his band The Long Shadows perform in post-rock orchestra-like style. As well as guitars, the band has two drum kits, keyboards and an occasional clarinet accompaniment arrayed behind Foster who nods and gestures to them from behind a music stand. They open with guitars being bowed in ‘Ouverture’ and ‘Slow Pace of the Winds’. Both of these songs are unreleased as yet. These serve as a starter before the main course which is a twenty-minute version of ‘The Hunter (By the Seaside Window)’.
Foster prefers a longer song format for its ability to wrap the audience in the sonic environment that the band creates. It creates the space for an immersive experience which offers more chance to create connection. Here, this long song has the feel of a tale of loss told around a warm fire on a winter’s evening. With its pulsing rhythm, it has a dreamy quality punctuated with passages of raw emotion. The song evokes nature as a sublime power beyond human control. It is reminiscent of the ocean which can ripple quietly or pound mercilessly.
Foster’s vocal delivery is often melancholic but not depressing. The guitars strum and screech. The drums roll and pound. The effect is enveloping and entrancing. There is no doubt about the atmosphere built by this performance which ends as a soft exhalation. Foster has communed with the audience, and they respond with rousing applause.
There is good news at the end of the gig as Foster tells a delighted audience that he and the band are back in on tour in the UK and Europe in Summer, 2022 but this time as headliners. This will give them the chance to play more of these longer songs and to sequence a playlist for a full set.