On paper, Foster The People are an odd choice to be the one band at a festival who get to perform with the cast of the Cirque du Soleil’s The Beatles LOVE show. At times, they sound only a few steps away from Maroon 5, which in itself is pretty far from The Beatles. What are the criteria for getting to be a part of this collaboration? Who gets to choose which band is involved and why Foster The People? The whole thing is a puzzle, to say the least.
When it actually happens, all cynicism is resolutely destroyed. You have to stand through all of the band’s set to get to it, which features a mix of fun indie-pop (‘Coming Of Age’, ‘Call It What You Want’) and more electronic cuts that fail to hit the mark (‘Pay The Man’). Then, during the bright ‘Sit Next To Me’, a man with his face painted white and a bunch of yellow flowers appears from the wings. More in ’60s style dress follow him, all looking like time travellers bemused by the scene around them.
More and more line the front of the stage as the song comes to a close and the first piano stabs of ‘Hey Jude’ sweep across the festival. Two women, one at either side, are strapped into harnesses and zoom up towards the stage’s ceiling as red rose petals rain down. Their castmates down below bring out umbrellas that shoot out red confetti into the crowd, while another spins on his head.
That the performance could put a smile on the face of even the most ardent of Foster The People haters is impressive. It’s further testament to The Beatles’ unbeatable songwriting as well as Cirque du Soleil’s ability to inspire wonder and awe in people, even with the simplest of theatrics.
Earlier in the set, frontman Mark Foster tells the crowd it’s “truly a gift to be up here to play music for you, for you to be together, celebrating each other.” That’s the sentiment his band’s grand finale captures – one of unity, and celebration, and love. Given the world’s current state, there’s something we can all learn from that.