Seven years on from their support gig for Bloc Party, Foals return to Ally Pally and triumph, with a truly breathtaking headline performance to a jam-packed palace.
I couldn’t think of a better way to spend Valentines Day than coming to the wonderful Alexandra Palace to watch one of the greatest modern indie acts. I am clearly not the only one who believes this as Foals manage to sell out the vast venue. Ever since ‘2008’, upon the release of their stunning debut ‘Antidotes’, Foals have been wowing audiences with their vicious live performances and the crowd wait in anticipation for yet another one tonight.
Before the main event, however, I must mention the support act, Cage The Elephant. Many may have been surprised that Cage The Elephant were supporting Foals as they are an incredibly popular group themselves and it is no surprise that they are co- headlining with Foals on their American tour. The Kentucky quartet live up to their reputation, with a stunning support gig, one that I would have happily paid the entry fee to see alone. They open with a new song from their recent ‘LP’ called ‘Spiderhead’ which immediately gets the crowd going, a heavy guitar tune which sets the tone for what’s to come. Up next, a classic, superb rock song from their self-titled first release, the stunning ‘In One Ear’, from the first pluck of the guitar string Ally Pally comes to life, with people fighting and hustling to get to the front, the crowd screaming along with Mathew Scholtz to the gritty chorus. Along with these songs ‘Cage The Elephant’ also perform hits such as ‘Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked’, which has the audience snarling along to the harsh lyrics in one of the songs of the night, they also play the popular ‘Shake Me Down’ which receives a raucous reception, one that you would normally expect from a headline act. They come to an end in an explosion of applause and the already sweaty, clammy crowd awaits in anticipation for the main act, Foals.
It’s Jimmy Smith who enters the stage first as the crowd roar in excitement to the opening few chords of ‘Prelude’, a stalwart opener since the release of their third album ‘Holy Fire’. This is a thumping entrance which explodes with sound and displays the meatier side of foals shown on their latest album. As this song draws to a close foals surprisingly dive in to a song that most fans won’t have experienced live since their early days, the song that introduced Foals to the world, the superb math rock, edgy jam that is ‘Hummer’. This is a very welcome surprise as the audience leaps along to the delicate toe-tapping guitar beat, thickened by Foals’ new found chunky, heavy guitar work, a superb rendition of their early work.
Immediately following is a further old foals fan favourite ‘Olympic Airways’ which gets the crowd screaming the words “dis-a-pe-ar, dis-a-pe-ar” over and over in one of the louder moments of crowd participation. The audience is then ploughed straight in to what is probably Foals’ most popular song to date ‘My Number’, and it does not disappoint. It has the crowd leaping and bouncing in union to the unbelievably catchy, yet meaty and mighty guitar riff, this number is up there with the best songs I have ever witnessed live, if you ever have the pleasure to wines this song, I dare you to try and remain still, this goes beyond a toe-tapping tune it is a full on body banging belter. A further highlight from their new album is the boisterous, menacing ‘Providence’. Yannis dives in to the crowd, guitar in hand, as he battles on producing deafening rock riffs, Bevan pounds on the drums in his finest performance of the night and the audience yet again leap around in a mad frenzy.
It is not just the loud moments of the gig where foals show their class, the quintet are just as exceptional during the quieter occasions of the concert. For example in songs such as ‘Blue Blood’ and ‘Spanish Sahara’, both from their second LP ‘Total Life Forever’, these are two truly beautiful songs which have the valentines crowd swaying in a couple of the more romantic pieces of the night. The latter of the pair ‘Spanish Sahara’ comes with a wonderful lighting show which is unlike anything I have seen at a concert and makes this already fantastic melody in to a great spectacle, with lasers firing out in to the crowd and smoke that gives the effect that the audience is under a cloudy sky. Alexandra Palace stops momentarily and watches in awe of the great musicianship and production on this piece. The sea sound effects shimmering in the back ground only add to this mystical and majestic anthem.
As the main set draws to a close Yannis growls ‘let’s make this a savage valentine’s day’ and ploughs in to ‘Inhaler’. This gets the crowd violent again as gaps emerge all over the place for the people of the palace to push and prance in. The song leaves the rowdy crowd wanting more as foals leave the stage to thundering applause.
They emerge minutes later to play a two song encore which includes ‘The French Open’ and ‘Two Steps Twice’. The former, a surprise, but welcome addition to the setlist as the crowd jump and jive to the beefed up version of Foals’ ‘Antidotes’ opener. The final song of the setlist ‘Two Steps Twice’ has become a fixture in this position since 2008 and is an unbelievable ending to a storming show. The song builds and builds in a ten minute rendition as Yannis prowls back and forth across the front of the stage. Yannis screams and Bevan pummels the drum kit which marks the beginning of the finest sixty seconds of the night as the crowd collides in one ginormous mosh pit. The perfect end to a faultless performance.
Foals have never been better, the setlist has an unbelievable flow to it, ranging from slower, beautiful melodies to raucous, savage rock tunes. A live show that is unrivalled to anything I’ve seen before and Foals manage this in just thirteen songs. The perfect Valentines Day, Foals are at their finest.
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