When Foals released their fourth album What Went Down, they staked their claim amongst the greats who manage to master the most impressive feat; longevity. Impressively, they have managed to maintain their individuality when they could easily have tired out and faded into obscurity. Their live sets are famously full of debauchery, events where no one leaves without being covered in bruises, sweat and lager, least of all the band themselves. With an arena tour in February, this comparably smaller venue (Rock City) feels intimate as the band are within touching distance.
Tonight is no different and it is clear there is a bubbling energy and excitement as people prepare to give it their all. Support band Real Lies warm everyone up with jumpy electro-synths but it’s clear that Foals are the main event. There is a raucous energy in Rock City as the band open with newer song ‘Snake Oil’. It’s evident that the venue is full of fans as lyrics and guitar riffs are immediately chanted back at the band despite being a deeper cut. This is followed by second single, ‘Mountain at My Gates’ which is clearly a favourite as the crowd surge forward in desperate attempt to touch lead singer Yannis, who teasingly comes to the barrier. As well as new songs, the older fans are in for a treat as classic mathematical rock (‘Red Sock Pugie’ and ‘Olympic Airways’) sends a hypnotic wave out inducing violent head banging throughout. Even 2007 single ‘Hummer’ is brought out which is met with shouts of appreciation.
“No one leaves without being covered in bruises, sweat and lager”
One of the more tender moments in the set is favourite ‘Spanish Sahara’ as masses of people crouch down in preparation for the climatic drop. Emotions run high as people collectively hug and hold lighters during the chorus and people leap up off the floor in joint song. ‘Providence,’ ‘Inhaler’ and ‘What Went Down ‘spark a feral energy with both Yannis and the crowd going mad for it. Things become primal with people screeching the lyrics “I’m just an animal!” there’s an intense atmosphere as everyone let’s go and releases their inner beast. It’s no ordinary night as there’s a special moment in lieu of bonfire night as guitarist Jimmy sticks three sparklers in the neck of his guitar and sets them alight.
One of the best moments is classic set closer ‘Two Steps, Twice’; a chaotic affair fuelled by several ridiculous sized mosh pits; there’s not a still person in the entire place as they’re all captured under the Foals spell. At the end of the night, Yannis climbs the balcony to fulfil his stage dive duty, egged on by the crowd he leaps off into the adoring crowd who catch him and proceed to crowd surf him back to the stage.
There are some sad omissions to the setlist as only one song from the second album, Total Life Forever, makes it in – but that’s to be expected with a discography as big as Foals’ and you can’t win them all. Other than that, it’s been a night of utter carnage and rowdiness but it’s what the people came for and everyone leaves in a happy state of cathartic satisfaction.
Lok Yee Liu