Set against a hazy backdrop of smoke and soft lighting, Foals look as though they’re playing to the Guildhall from somewhere inside the screensaver of a Macbook, without being anywhere near as pretentious. Proclaimed as ‘Math-Rock’ in their early days, they’ve since matured into something more refined and less nonsensical. The bleeping, chirping lead guitar parts are still there, along with the insanely tight, complex drum rhythms, but now they’re all set to an underlying, atmospheric whirring that floats around, filtering in and out of prominence. This progression was hinted at in the transition from demos to the first album, and has been finalized by Total Life Forever.
It’s not to say it’s a better or worse record; in fact it makes for a pleasingly varied set. Recent single, Blue Blood features elements from old and new and leaves some of the crowd in two minds as to what to do with themselves. With the age restriction of fourteen plus, you’re left with a crowd of teenagers half trying to look like they’re ‘going mental’ and half making sure they don’t break they’re glasses as it’s the last pair they get on free prescription.
Those in the crowd who have got the jist of what Foals do, choose to avoid the unnecessary, yet massive attempt at a moshpit, and are happy to stand back and appreciate the quieter bits and let their bodies do what they like in the dancier bits. It seems almost rude to talk during Spanish Sahara, so as not to disturb the eerie, encapsulating effect it has on anyone listening to it. Yannis’ vocals on this and many of the other newer songs embody the change to a softer sound, but the addition of Two Steps Twice as an encore shows that neither the band or Yannis have lost their balls. He explores every corner of the stage, physically as well as sonically, from the front of the crowd to the top of the speaker stacks. They’ve become experts in changes of intensity, to an extent that surprises even long term fans into not quite knowing what to expect. It becomes apparent that their earlier material was clearly not written for a big room with a big crowd; even the colossal Cassius comes across as lacking slightly, but only when compared to the immensity of the likes of Miami and Total Life Forever. Foals are a band that are by no means afraid of outdoing themselves.
Photo by Jamie Neely.