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Switchfoot's Up In Arms Tour Brings
Hope (and a rockin' party) to Thousands

by Susan Lloyd

If you’re a fan of Switchfoot, you’ve been spoiled lately with The Appetite for Construction tour that finished up in late Fall of ’07. Thankfully, our friends in the ‘foot have continued to spoil us with another big tour, this one supporting the work of the philanthropic organization To Write Love on Her Arms. The Up in Arms Tour began March 27 in San Antonio, TX and I was fortunate enough to catch the April 3 show in Myrtle Beach at the House of Blues.

Supporters of TWLOHA in a “behind the scenes” kind of way since the organization’s inception, Switchfoot is throwing public support to the organization by including founder Jamie Tworkowski on the tour. Jamie was unable to make the HOB show, but tour friend Michael filled in to speak to concert goers about the problem of depression, cutting, and suicide among people ages 14-29 and how TWLOHA is dedicated to offering hope and help to those who suffer. The Up In Arms Tour will call attention nationwide to the struggle so many young adults face today in dealing with the too often taboo subject of depression. Kudos to Switchfoot for giving the organization such a broad platform from which to educate concert goers. It’s one of the best reasons to attend the show!

Switchfoot

Touring partners include Athlete, Emery, Sparkys Flaw and Anthony Raneri of Bayside. HOB attendees were fortunate to hear Athlete open the show. Although they weren’t running full octane (drummer Stephen Roberts was absent for the night…a Macbook Pro took over drum duties as best he could) the set was not lacking in intensity and served as the perfect primer for the more high energy set Switchfoot would provide later. Noel Potts, front man for the four piece band exuded warmth and appreciation for the audience at hand. Athlete bass player Carey Willetts showed himself to be a versatile member when he picked up an acoustic guitar on more than one occasion to fill out the sound of tracks selected for the night. Potts was a charming front man who peppered the set with dry British humor that fortunately wasn’t lost on the crowd. Midway through the set, it was apparent the band had already connected well with the audience, but hearing the story behind the song “Best Not to Think About It” sealed the deal. Potts explained the song was written after he viewed the UK documentary about the 9/11 attack entitled The Falling Man. Fans listened attentively at the provocative, haunting song. The set included stand out performances of “Hurricane”, “ Wires”, “The Outsiders” and “24 Hours”. Noel Potts ended the set by thanking the audience for such a warm reception. Then he caused the Macbook to bow. Charming.

Switchfoot

The majority of the crowd filtered in during Athlete’s set, so the house was fairly packed by the time the San Diego based Switchfoot took the stage. And they took the stage in a manner not seen in previous tours when all five members gathered around a mike to sing a line from the chorus of “Shadow Proves the Sunshine”. To make things even more intriguing, front man Jon Foreman walked over to the keyboard to play and sing out the rest of the chorus by himself as band mates took their places on stage. Switchfoot then immediately ripped into the opening guitar riff of “Stars”. Just as I had seen them do during the Appetite for Construction tour, “Stars” was followed by “Oh Gravity” and the crowd was roaring out the words to both songs. No question about it, there was a tremendous amount of mutual appreciation in the room all night as the affection between band and fans was the palpable undercurrent throughout the night.

Switchfoot

Foreman is known for mixing it up with the crowd, and this night’s show was no exception. Front row fans were given the chance to see Foreman up close and personal when during “This is Your Life” he walked the security barrier like a tightrope, holding hands with fans and singing directly to one or two fortunate souls. At another point in the evening, “On Fire” meshed into “High and Dry” then gave way to a full version of “Shadow Proves the Sunshine” so that Jon could travel out through the audience and into the back corner of the venue. Fans there were obviously thrilled to have the front man so close, and once again Foreman showed why he is a master at connecting to a crowd.

It’s fairly obvious to anyone who has experienced a Switchfoot show that band members connect well to each other, too. And for concert goers Thursday, April 3, that connection meant we all got to show our love for guitarist Drew Shirley when bandmates surprised him onstage with a cake and balloons during the “American Dream” freeze. Foreman grinned like a Cheshire cat as he led the crowd in a singing Happy Birthday to Drew, and the surprise was exactly that. True to Switchfoot form, fans had a chance to connect even more by signing a large birthday card for Drew at the merch table prior to the start of the show. Several fans had brought in balloons and signs for the occasion and it was obvious the band enjoyed the crowd participation.

Switchfoot

The party atmosphere didn’t die down, though, and Switchfoot sounded better throughout the entire set than I’ve ever heard them sound before. The set list included “Faust, Midas, and Myself” and a mash up of Beyonce’s “Crazy in Love” and “Gone”. In support of and in tribute to To Write Love on Her Arms, “Love is the Movement” is being played this tour. The song title has been used on promotional merch for the organization, and the guys did a tremendous job playing it for fans that night. Fans who have followed the band for years as well as newer fans were all singing the mantra-like line at the end ‘get up, get out, love is moving you now’.

The set list was solid, but for one lucky fan (Emily Makar), Jon granted her request to play “Lonely Nation” in lieu of “Ammunition” and also honored her by dedicating the song to her. Switchfoot closed out the set with their huge hit “Meant to Live” but the relentless chanting of a charged up crowd thirsty for more brought Foreman back out to play “Your Love is Strong” a selection from his new Spring EP. It was a transcendent moment, and time seemed to stop as many sang along. The song itself is a step into a new realm for Jon as even he has called it a worship song. No stops followed though as Jon immediately launched into the familiar chord progression that introduces “Dare you To Move”. No one in the crowd was silent for the completion of the encore as Switchfoot resoundingly brought down the house.

Switchfoot

It was the best Switchfoot show I’ve ever seen, and I’ve witnessed quite a few. All members of the band looked incredibly happy, there was a birthday to celebrate, we were settled in one of the best venues in the southeast, and the entire band was in top form, musically and personally. The show was such a good time, I’ll be going again to the Jacksonville show in a few weeks. I would urge anyone within striking distance of this tour to make it a priority to find a way to go. The Up In Arms tour is currently in the Midwest, comes back to the east coast in a few weeks, and will finish up in California May 10.

View more concert photos at Susan's Flickr page here

All photos copyright Susan Lloyd. All rights reserved. Do not duplicate without permission.

Susan Lloyd is a professional photographer in Charleston, South Carolina who specializes in shooting concerts. She holds a degree in Music Education and has worked as a worship leader and as a youth minister. She is passionate about all types of music and enjoys encouraging and supporting bands who seek to glorify God. She also loves movies, animals, traveling, and making new friends. She and her husband have three kids and have been married for nearly 17 years. More info about Susan's photography can be found at www.susanlloydphotography.com or www.susieq3c.wordpress.com