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
Over their 20 years, the band has built a community of dedicated followers the world over
music
Arts and Entertainment
The Wu-Tang Clan will sell only one copy of their album Once Upon A Time In Shaolin
musicWu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own only copies of their latest albums
Arts and Entertainment
Bradley Cooper, Alessandro Nivola and Patricia Clarkson on stage

film
Arts and Entertainment

Grace Dent on TV

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift is heading to Norwich for Radio 1's Big Weekend

music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon starring in 'Wild'

It's hard not to warm to Reese Witherspoon's heroismfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Word up: Robbie Coltrane as dictionary guru Doctor Johnson in the classic sitcom Blackadder the Third
books

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Hacked off: Maisie Williams in ‘Cyberbully’

Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challenge

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game are both nominated at the Bafta Film Awards
Arts and Entertainment

Academy criticised after no non-white actors nominated

Arts and Entertainment
Damian Lewis shooting a scene as Henry VIII in Wolf Hall
TV

Arts and Entertainment
A history of violence: ‘Angry, White and Proud’ looked at the rise of far-right groups

tv

An expose of hooliganism masquerading as an ideological battle

Arts and Entertainment

art

Lee Hadwin can't draw when he's awake, but by night he's an artist

Arts and Entertainment

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Michael Keaton in the 1998 Beetlejuice original

film

Arts and Entertainment

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Michael Kitchen plays Christopher Foyle in ITV's 'Foyle's War'

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Downton Abbey star Joanne Froggatt will be starring in Dominic Savage's new BBC drama The Secrets

Arts and Entertainment
Vividly drawn: Timothy Spall in Mike Leigh’s ‘Mr Turner’
film
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
News
art

‘Remember the attackers are a cold-blooded, crazy minority’, says Blek le Rat

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.

    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
    Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

    Growing mussels

    Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
    Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

    Diana Krall interview

    The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
    Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

    Pinstriped for action

    A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
    Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

    Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

    'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

    Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

    Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
    Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us