I’d forgotten about Foals. Back when Antidotes came out in 2008, just prior to me starting university in Manchester, I was obsessed. ‘Cassius’, ‘Balloons’, and ‘Two Steps, Twice’ were blaring from my speakers at a regularity that can only have been extremely annoying for those in my vicinity. And then, during Fresher’s Week, they played at a venue five minutes away from my halls. Friends from home drove up for the show, and friends from my first days in my new home got last minute tickets to join us. It felt like the start of a new life. And Foals were a major part of its soundtrack. They stood out at the time, too, as something fresh and exciting. Everything seemed to fit.
And then I forgot about them. Not totally; I listened to follow up album, Total Life Forever, and got some enjoyment out of it. But I didn’t spend a lot of time with it, and I never even clicked play on either of the following two albums.
They seemed to have fallen foul of a bit of a shift in my musical tastes, cast aside with the likes of The View, Razorlight, and The Cribs.
Then a chance to review their gig at Victoria Warehouse fell into my lap. It would be fun, I told myself. Nostalgia. Maybe they’d play ‘Cassius’ and I could pretend, for five minutes or so, that I was that 24-year-old again. I was a Fresher. Stress was something I hadn’t even learnt about yet.
They didn’t play ‘Cassius’. It didn’t matter. In the week or so between finding out that I would be reviewing them and actually attending the gig, I had listened to their latest album, Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost (Part 1), maybe 35 times. I was hooked. How the hell had I lumped them in with the bands mentioned above, instead of seeing them for the unique and creative band that they really are? This latest album might be their best so far, closer to the sound of my favourite band Radiohead, than to any of those indie nightmares I loved in my early twenties.
With a new sense of excitement, I stood among a crowd of trendy haircuts and Foals t-shirts and watched support sets from Kiev and Yak. Kiev were a raucous and exciting act that seemed a perfect complement for the headliners. You could maybe say the same about Yak, although the lead singer gave off far too many Johnny-Borrell-I-Think-I’m-A-Rock-God vibes for me to be truly sucked in. It won’t be too long before he’s telling the media that he’s better than Bob Dylan.
Then came Foals. Opening with ‘On The Luna’, one of the many highlights from their latest album, they kicked off the set with a real energy, purpose, and swagger. You could immediately tell that this was a band that has spent more than a decade together, with an almost flawless performance that would last through all of the set.
There were moments throughout when I felt my ignorance, as a room full of adoring fans bobbed up and down to (and took far too many videos of) songs that had completely passed me by. But it didn’t matter. Foals are that good live that they could play Mariah Carey songs all night and they would probably still get you dancing.
I would have expected songs from their debut to be my highlights, and it was pretty special to hear ‘Olympic Airways’, ‘Red Socks Pugie’, and set closer ‘Two Steps, Twice’ live for the first time in over a decade. But for me, the new album really stands out as something special and my favourite track on the record, ‘Sunday’, was the most involving moment of the gig. ‘In Degrees’ and ‘White Onion’ were also fantastic.
There might be a moral here – not all the music you loved in you teens and early twenties is shit. Just the majority. I missed out on a decade of Foals. But being there for this set, I was sucked firmly back into the fold. Foals fans might be far, far too keen on taking videos of every single song in a set but I’ll forgive them. They have great taste in music.
Words by Fran Slater.