Foals review: The Kids Are All Grown Up

By November 20, 2015



Bristol has history with Foals. In 2007 the TV series Skins released, in what was back then a revolutionary move, an online-only episode. Set in an abandoned cathedral in Bristol, the 10-minute episode featured the cast organising a secret indie gig with an up-and-coming band called Foals.

Fast-forward eight years, and that band are on stage at the Anson Rooms in Bristol University’s Student Union and it feels like the kids that watched and loved that show are now students, and have come out in force to re-enact that night.

‘Hummer’, the song that the band played that night and their first ever single, comes early on in the set much to the delight of those in the know, but it is ‘Mountain at my Gates’ from the new album What Went Down that really gets the crowd going.

The front and centre of the venue is a heaving mass from this point on, ‘My Number’ and ‘Inhaler’ from their mercury nominated third album Holy Fire threaten to raise the roof, but are easily matched by the energy and dynamism of earlier material such as ‘Red Socks Pugie’.

The earlier tracks are especially appreciated by the slightly older and head-nodding sections of the crowd, who are carefully arranged around the periphery of the room to stay out of harms way, but who show their passion with an encyclopaedic grasp of each and every lyric. And yes, that’s where I was.

It is the stripped back beauty of ‘Spanish Sahara’ that unites everyone in the biggest sing-along of the night however. A bizarre sit-down is orchestrated from the front of the crowd during the song, causing general bemusement around me, but it doesn’t stop the sound reaching stadium-like levels as the crowd competed with the band for sheer volume, and arms are raised in communal euphoria.

But the Anson Rooms is not a stadium–this is a much smaller venue than the band is accustomed to playing. This UK club tour, sandwiched between the August release of the new album and an arena tour scheduled for early next year is a chance for this energetic band to reconnect with the spirit of their early gigs, and front man Yannis Phillippakis takes every opportunity to do so.

Reaching out to adoring hands, climbing speaker stacks and throwing himself into the front rows at regular intervals, Phillippakis is a natural and highly engaging frontman. His vocals are not always the clearest in the mix, but his energy and connection with his fans can’t be faulted.

The love is certainly mutual (although the preponderance of people getting on each other’s shoulders just to take seflies does rankle slightly), and as the band build to a frantic finale, including What Went Down from the latest album, Phillippakis’ recent talk of wanting to feel the sweat and punk-spirit of their early gigs is borne out.

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