Foals, Brixton Academy, London
Wednesday 17 November 2010
Three years ago, Foals were one of the most tipped new bands to emerge in Britain. Their math-rock – meticulously arranged, intricate guitar and drum rhythms performed with relentless energy – has always had the crowds dancing, but the dense arrangements of their debut album, Antidotes, were more limiting in their appeal. With their second album, Total Life Forever, they expanded their sound, and their fanbase, and gained themselves a Mercury Prize nomination.
It also gave them the kind of songs with which to fill sizeable venues. The crowds swarming round Brixton Academy have been waiting for this: excitement and anticipation hang in the sweaty air. As the Oxford five-piece launch into "Blue Blood", the crowds surge forward, arms in the air. It's just like an indie disco.
Not that the band have abandoned the angular, staccato guitars of their debut. Tonight, they play songs from both albums, including early singles "Balloons" and "Hummer".
There is no need for 24-year-old frontman Yannis Philippakis to rouse the crowd with much chat. He's positioned unfrontman-like to the side of the stage, his guitar slung high. Aside from the obligatory lines thanking the crowd, it's all about the music; song after song maintains that high-power energy. Instead, for Philippakis, crowd-surfing better fits the atmosphere.
With the skittering, itchy beat of "Cassius" the crowd surge still more, before the album single "Total Life Forever" calls to mind Talking Heads. But it's "Spanish Sahara", the expansive centrepiece of their new album, that provides the main highlight, and a much needed emotive space from the high-powered grooves.
It is no wonder that tonight's show, the culmination of their biggest UK tour to date, is sold out, such is the mastery of their performance. It's a stamina that the audience have to work to live up to.
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