Reviewed on Tuesday January 5
The best art is the art least contrived, released unhindered from the pit of personality and individual experience. Foals are one example of that, shape-shifting between alternative, indie, math, post-rock and even bits of funk and electronica like a synesthesiac skips between sounds and colour. Live, none of the members stand out from another, twirling together into a tight, team performance that middle managers everywhere strive to attain. This team dynamic is reflected in the same five fellas having stayed together for all of their four albums.
Coming out to ‘Snake Oil’ – a middle-order song from their latest album – Foals proved happy to play the songs they like, eschewing an opening blast to roll along with some of their older and/or slower output. In between, they threw in a banger or two; ‘My Number’, their Godzilla-sized hit from 2013, managed to throw some unconvinced arms into the air, a morning coffee song for an evening gig.
Even emotional nukes like ‘Providence’ and ‘Spanish Sahara’ felt somewhat subdued due to sound problems, and the gig looked set to be appreciable, but not lovable. Then, out of nowhere, the gig and Foals found the jade monkey in ‘Inhaler’. The amps found their voice, the lighting became irrepressible, and frontman Yannis Philippakis mirrored the new-found energy in a crowd-surf.
That was that, though; ‘Inhaler’ was the ‘last song’ before the twin encore, ‘What Went Down’ and ‘Two Steps, Twice’. ‘Inhaler’ had ignited the crowd, and it’s a pity it came so late. Despite the dreary conditions outside and the poor sonic climate inside, all in all Foals delivered a performance delicately excelling in raw energy and calculated work ethic, proving that thumping rock isn’t dead yet.