The last we’d really heard from Foals was 2010’s Total Life Forever, an ambitious and well-crafted post-rock record which ranked the band beyond the league of Skins-era indie acts. Two years on and we’re in the midst of the release of the band’s third record Holy Fire, which is said to pack more than just a punch. After a phenomenally bass-laden laser display courtesy of Hackney’s Marshmallow Laser Feast, the Oxford 5-piece took to XOYOs stage to demonstrate just what they mean by ‘Holy Fire’.
New tracks like My Number, Late Night and the thrilling Inhaler translate exceptionally well to the live audience. Lead singer and guitarist Yannis Philippakis’s stage presence tonight expresses less carefree mischief and more unmitigated angst. Riffs are teased and build-ups are extended to ensure that the velocity of the crowd matches that of the new material. But the setlist contains plenty of more familiar songs like Miami, Blue Blood and Red Socks Pugie which demonstrate that the band themselves still seem to revel in plucking guitar hooks over intricate, frenzied beats. When they build tracks to fever pitch then unleash a congested, layered crescendo (see: Spanish Sahara) they create a scene of absolute pandemonium among a fan base who’ve most likely been going to see them for years. When they return post-encore to perform Two Steps Twice from their debut, Philippakis leaves the stage and muscles through the crowd to the bar on the other side of the room, industry heads turn and stare; the steadfast fan-base turn and go ape. It’s an unhinged climax to a set of unparalleled musicianship alongside polished and refined ferocity. Holy Fire and the shows which follow it should only fuel this sense of fever.
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Words: Duncan Harrison
Photo: Jason Denyer