There are many reasons why one should feel envious of Foals. Not only have they sold out two nights at the Academy, they have a synth collection that would even make Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor a little jealous. Onstage a Moog Voyager and a Fender Rhodes are spotted, not to mention the mouth-watering array of guitar pedals. From a sheer tech nerd point of view, we’re already in for a treat.
Support act comes courtesy of Ninja Tune Records with the Invisible. The London-based trio have something of a Three Trapped Tigers feel as they ease the audience into the night’s proceedings. Not an overly exciting experience but their calypso vibe and stellar musicianship compliments tonight’s headliners. They successfully capture the masses’ attention as everyone waits (impatiently) for the main attraction to take to the stage.
Foals eventually arrive, and there’s a distinct feeling that they may be a little worse for wear following celebrations at last night’s NME Awards. Rather than let it get in their way, they launch into what can only be surmised as an inspired set. You don’t see them shouting at their tech team demanding hot towels and Alka-Seltzer, as one might imagine Van Halen doing back in the day. They just get on with things – and in a super professional manner. ‘Olympic Airways’ is among the tracks played from their debut album, Antidotes. ‘Miami’ also finds its way into the set, much to everyone’s excitement. The sound is a little rough in the early stages of the set but all kinks are ironed out quicksmart.
While the new material has come under some scrutiny, it holds its weight live. Despite being relatively new (Holy Fire only hit the shelves last month) audience members roar along to every word of ‘My Number’ with the kind of enthusiasm and adoration you might expect at a Justin Bieber concert. It’s obvious that Foals love their fans every bit as much. There’s a feeling that Yannis and crew are here to give it their all, no matter what. This is driven by the powerhouse that is their rhythm section. Drummer Jack Bevan and bassist Walter Gervers keep everyone in check as they drive the tracks forward with a confidence that suggests a well-rehearsed unit. It’s thrilling to watch. Much to everyone’s excitement, frontman Yannis Philippakis leaps onto the balcony of the Academy and joins us up in the nosebleeds for ‘Balloons’. He rejoins the band to close the evening with ‘Inhaler’ and ‘Two Steps, Twice’, which sends the crowd into a tizzy of delight.
Friday night’s show, by comparison, is a flawless victory for Foals. Circle pits ensue for old favorites that crop up, such as ‘Balloons’, and fans in the front row hug each other, clearly moved by the experience. Three albums in, and Foals still play with the conviction of a garage band hungry to impress their peers. Throughout the set, they rarely exchange words with the audience, but their onstage energy speaks for itself. Musicians take note, Foals know how to deliver.