As Foals lay down a marker with one of the best live shows of the year, Getintothis’ Adam Lowerson sees a band ready to make the step up to festival headliner.
“You’re not seriously telling me that anyone is going to be listening to Foals in 12 years” said Noel Gallagher, in his much talked about interview with Esquire earlier this week. They were just one of the bands the former Oasis man accused of constantly trying to impress the Guardian, and probably came out lightly in comparison to the likes of One Direction and Thom Yorke, who took quite the bashing. Yet it still seemed a bit of an unfair comment about one of the current shining stars of UK music. A band who many are talking about as potential Glastonbury headliners.
Things do seem to be falling in to place for them to make the step up. Their fourth album What Went Down has been received well across the music world, the current run of dates sold out in mega quick time, and they have their first UK arena tour booked in for early 2016. Foals are primed and ready to be the biggest band in the country.
They’ve certainly got the following, and there was a tangible feeling of excitement among the sell out Olympia crowd tonight, with the room already packed out before even the support act take to the stage. There’s talk about what song they’ll open with, what big hitters we could look forward to and what favourites would miss the cut now that the band have a big enough back catalogue to leave some popular tracks out, and still have a killer set list.
They don’t disappoint, and the set list is blockbuster from start to finish. Kicking off with the colossal guitar riff of Snake Oil from the latest record, the benchmark was set for what was to be an hour and a half of big hooks, huge chorus’ and sheer energy from the band and crowd.
The one thing most notable from the performance is just how many huge crowd pleasing tracks Foals now have. Their most recent single Mountain At My Gates is given an early run out and is swiftly followed by Olympic Airways and big fan favourite My Number, not giving the crowd any chance to catch their breath. It is relentless from the off, tune after tune. Foals aren’t just your average indie band with a couple of decent singles anymore. They’re the real deal.
The audience are given a bit of mid set rest with Give It All and Spanish Sahara, two tracks which showcase the band’s more atmospheric, melodic side. The latter is a real highlight, with Yannis Philippakis‘ bare, raw vocals bringing the crowd to stunned silence, before the track slowly builds to an almighty climax.
Philippakis is on top form all night, climbing over the barrier and into the crowd on a number of occasions, performing with relentless energy. When he steps onstage, he is a man possessed. His unpredictability is incredibly engaging, and you can’t take your eyes off him. Look away and you might have missed him diving from the Royal Box onto the crowd during Two Steps Twice before crowdsurfing back to his bandmates.
The night is brought to a close with the trio of Hummer, What Went Down and Two Steps Twice, with the title track from their new album sandwiched between to old favourites acting as a marker of just how much the band have come since 2008’s Antidotes. They’re almost unrecognisable. Gone are the jingle jangle ‘math rock’ guitar sounds of old, with huge, juggernaut riffs now in their place. It’s a sound tailored for arenas, and could well be deliberate in anticipation of where Foals are headed.
Foals feel on the brink of something very big. They are without doubt the band of the moment. And addressing Noel Gallagher‘s earlier comments midway through the set saying, “This one goes out to Noel Gallagher. I don’t care about 12 years, it’s all about now“, Philippakkis and co are very much living in the moment. And loving every minute of it.
Pictures by Getintothis’ Keith Ainsworth.