Tonight, the more sensible denizens of this fair Isle are snuggled up in their abodes bracing themselves for yet another onslaught of hurricane >insert this week’s humanising name given to God’s vengeful-homophobic-wrath storm<. Those less sensible and lucky enough to have a ticket are headed off to the Olympia for the first of Foals‘ two sold out shows in the weather beaten capital.
First up on the bill tonight, and hailing from Leeds, are That Fucking Tank. TFT are an instrumental two-piece consisting of drummer and a guitarist. If fuzzed and phasered out riffs laid down over a solid groove is your thing then they might just be the dynamic duo for you. Think AC/DC meets Battles and you’re getting the picture. Next to tread the boards, and making their Irish debut, are the eagerly anticipated Cage The Elephant. They’re a band whose reputation for explosive live shows precedes them. Lead singer Matthew Shultz sets his stall out early and after prowling the stage with moves like Jagger during their opening number he’s does an ‘Iggy’ in the second song and steps across that most sacred of lines that separates the stage from the audience (a line which Foals’ Yannis Philippakis will later, literally, dance all over). Kept upright by the already adoring crowd he stands like Caesar, held aloft, a colossus towering over the conquered hordes in the Olympia’s pit.
Musically they veer from quasi-glam rock a lá New York Dolls to southern tinged rock to Pixies-esque workouts. They are a band with a sonic identity crisis but they’re so damn entertaining and engaging to watch that you forget to ask yourself whether or not the diversity is a bad thing… until the damage has been done and they’ve left the stage leaving a very satisfied and fired up audience behind them. These boys will be back for sure and if you like a good old fashioned rock band well versed in the theatrics of the craft then make sure you catch them on their return.
By the time the third and final act of the night make their appearance the venue is more jammers than a jar of Chivers. The air is bristling with expectant electricity as the five piece math-rockers take to the stage. From the first track ‘Prelude’, to the show’s climax they have the audience by the proverbials. Foals are riding the crest of a wave at the moment, on the back of the critically acclaimed Holy Fire album and with a well-earned reputation as one of the finer live bands you’ll have the privilege of seeing. But rather than rest on their laurels they push themselves musically and physically to deliver a set heavy in highlights. All three of their albums are represented here tonight and all tracks are equally welcomed by the crowd. Outstretched hands reach for the stage; lyrics are roared back to the adored, spontaneous mosh-pits break out as reckless abandon overtakes those caught up in Foals’ polyrhythmic spell.
Musically they are on top form, Jimmy Smith’s and Yannis’ guitar lines interlink in their Afro Highlife stylee and Jack Bevan’s powerful performance on the kit is exhausting to look at. The set is beautifully paced and whilst it’s very up-tempo the melodies and song lines are never compromised. It’s evident that these boys have put in the graft because they have the tightness and unity that can only be achieved by a band putting in the hard miles in the van touring.
After the first half of their set, which contains ‘Spanish Sahara’ (which triggers a spontaneous audience sit down), ‘Total Life Forever’ and ‘My Number’ amongst others, they return for an encore of ‘Hummer’ and their perennial closer ‘Two Steps, Twice’. It’s during their swan song that Yannis decides to go for a quick scramble around the posh boxes before jumping from the circle in to the crowd below. Fortunately for him and to the relief of some anxious looking security staff, the conquering hero is caught by the mob and transported back to the stage from where he and his cohorts bid us their adieus, gratitude and a fond farewell. Not bad bang for your buck on a miserable hoor of a night in Dublin’s battered city.