Foals At 3Arena – Photos & Review
Foals have been doing the rounds for quite some time, amassing a devoted fan base – presenting themselves as stylish musicians more concerned with an aesthetic approach to music-making. They’ve had the occasional dalliance with larger music venues, however, their What Went Down tour is one of the largest to date. Frontman Yannis Philippakis admitted, ‘This is the first night of our arena tour and it’s surreal for us’ displaying an anxious grin from under his curls. However, as they burst into their first track, ‘Snake Oil’, any potential stage fright quickly disseminated as Philippakis growled into the microphone, the clatter of drums and flickering percussion filling the 3Arena. The audience appeared somewhat subdued, some people seemed to expect a different opening track that would really get bodies bouncing but the band displayed resilience as they performed their noise-rock. ‘What Went Down’ can be seen as Foals’ working to make their pop more profound and give it some muscle, and ‘Snake Oil’ is a track that really emphasises this as is the clawing bassline, and punkier elements add more backbone to their already impressive catalogue.
Foals aren’t ones for flirting with their fans, and keeping in line with the harsher, rougher elements of What Went Down as an album, the band just belted out track after track with the occasional murmur of amused words from the Oxford frontman. It’s not until their third track, ‘My Number’, that the excitement is more tangible in the arena, arms flutter in the air as the audience scream along with every lyric before the band flip the mood on its head with the calculated intricacies of ‘Birch Tree’- a track that benefits from intergalactic synth and pays homage to Foals’ earlier stylistics. The set list was a mixed bag, drawing fairly evenly on tracks from Total Life Forever and Holy Fire respectively alongside their latest offering. However, there was the noticeable absence of ‘Blue Bloods’, ‘Hummer’, and ‘Milk & Black Spiders’- tracks that have all been staples of the Foals’ set list in recent years.
With a backdrop of underwhelming lighting and hazy video projections, Philippakis is the propelling force of the band – in equal parts tortured and melancholia, he seems to give tracks like ‘Olympic Airways’ and ‘What Went Down’ every fibre of his soul, pure emotion filling his voice. The highlights of the night were ‘Mountain At My Gates’ and ‘Inhaler’, with the latter track just a flurry of light and sound, whilst the standing area was nothing more than a sea of bodies pulsing in time with the music. Philippakis momentarily broke his sombreness with a tiny half smile and the briefest of glances to his band mates. It’s safe to say Foals aren’t intimidated by a crowd of almost 14,000, they already have their arena performances down to a fine art.
Photos by Pedro Giaquinto
Review by Elaine McDonald