Foals, Dome, Brighton
Clare Maguire, Xoyo, London

Foals show that kids with short attention spans can be transfixed by rambling yet clever songs

On the night when a whole month's worth of rain falls on Sussex, it seems fitting to be watching a band whose music sounds like water.

There's a pellucid beauty to Foals nowadays. Where their first album, Antidotes, forcibly laid the grid of their math-rock instincts over the dancefloor imperative with sometimes clunky results, they've loosened and dissolved to liquid.

Bands of Foals' generation constitute a second wave to the punk-funk revivalists of the early 2000s, but also hark back to the indie dance craze of the late 1980s. Listening to their much-improved second album Total Life Forever, I think of art-baggy curios such as New Fast Automatic Daffodils, MBV or the Blue Aeroplanes.

There's a tendency, on stage, for the Oxford quintet to disappear into their own posteriors under their big, battered banner, give or take the odd moment when cuddly singer Yannis Philippakis, he of the permanently dolorous voice, whacks a purpose-placed floor-tom. For long periods he, guitarist Jimmy Smith, and bassist Walter Gerver turn inwards to face one another, buckle rhythmically at the knees like elasticated toy giraffes, and that's about as exciting as it gets.

The reaction of the crowd, however, is remarkably physical for such a cerebral band. "Cassius" sparks a full-on outbreak of crowd-surfing and moshing, with circular clearings made for exuberant slamming. It's unexpected and oddly pleasing that such a non-obvious band is able to connect with something approaching a mass audience, and that their often really-bloody-long songs can hold the attention of kids raised on blip culture.

"Spanish Sahara", with what we must now, in this smoke-free age, call a "phone-waving intro" ("I see you lying there/Like a lilo losing air ...", which I still can't decide is brilliant or awful), receives such a deafening singalong reception that it seems to spark the lethargic band into life.

Yannis leaps into the throng during "Electric Bloom", causing a stampede and a briefly perturbing crowd collapse. For his next trick, he disappears altogether, only to materialise on the balcony, wandering through the aisles with his guitar, until he scales a ledge, pauses for a second, then drops dramatically on to a speaker below. Orange tape on top of the cabinet suggests it's not spontaneous, but it's a neat stunt all the same. No question, Foals have matured into a lovely horse. They're a pony no more.

The first I heard of Clare Maguire, she was already a done deal. Chatting to music biz PRs about who's likely to pick up the Critic's Choice at the Brits they replied, "Clare Maguire's nailed on, surely?" The urge to reply "Who?" was immense. Clearly I'd missed the memos, but something had blatantly been decided.

Something's fishy here. Something doesn't fit. She was discovered, we're told, after posting her demos on MySpace – a backstory no one believes any more. There's a missing link in the chain we're not being told about.

Even though her debut album's not out until February, she's already fiendishly well connected. She's hung out with Rick Rubin and Jay-Z, toured with Plan B, and Jarvis Cocker's even written her a song. So why has Maguire been fast-tracked? What's this "iconic new singer", as she's oxymoronically described on the press release, actually got?

The first and most obvious thing is a truly fearsome voice. A deep, booming, belting, floor-shaking instrument, it seems to channel the power of some Cherokee high priestess. There's something incongruous about hearing such terrifying tones emanating from such a petite frame. Then again, at other times she just sounds like a nouveau Lennox.

Her eight-song set is a little MOR, reminiscent of Alison Moyet's post-Yazoo material. Her debut hit "Ain't Nobody" is not the Chaka Khan classic, but there is one cover tonight. Fittingly, for someone who is compared to Stevie Nicks, it's a Fleetwood Mac number. The fact that Maguire opts for "Big Love", a Lindsey Buckingham vocal, is a surprise. A tiny one, I admit, but in these sewn-up, foregone-conclusion times, we have to be grateful for what we get.

Next Week:

Simon hunts down Gorillaz, and hides from scary 'Seth Efrikan' rap-ravers Die Antwoord

Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Radio
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
film
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

Comics
Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
music
Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

music
Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
William Shakespeare on the cover of John Gerard's The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

books
Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones review
Arts and Entertainment
Grayson Perry dedicates his Essex home to Julie

Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treat

tv
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe, the terrifying gang leader, in the new film
filmActor who played Toecutter returns - but as a different villain in reboot
Arts and Entertainment
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jessica Hynes in W1A
tvReview: Perhaps the creators of W1A should lay off the copy and paste function spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Power play: Mitsuko Uchida in concert

classical
Arts and Entertainment
Dangerous liaisons: Dominic West, Jake Richard Siciliano, Maura Tierney and Leya Catlett in ‘The Affair’ – a contradictory drama but one which is sure to reel the viewers in
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Herring, pictured performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival two years ago
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Music freak: Max Runham in the funfair band
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
film 'I felt under-used by Hollywood'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

    Abuse - and the hell that follows

    James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
    Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

    It's oh so quiet!

    The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
    'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

    'Timeless fashion'

    It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
    If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

    Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

    Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
    New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

    Evolution of swimwear

    From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine