Gig review: Foals, Enmore Theatre, 9/2/2011

Foals @ Enmore Theatre. Pic: Sevana Ohandjanian

Last year Foals played to a sold out Manning Bar crowd, six months later they’ve managed to pack out a venue twice the size with no new music to their name. They are the band whose reputation exceeds them, especially live. Add last minute supports Holy Fuck and anyone without a ticket should be devastated.

Last Dinosaurs purveyed the standard jaunty indie pop bred for the same pages of NME that Foals originally came to attention from, but they had little to offer that we haven’t heard before.

Holy Fuck on the other hand, are innovative noise wizards. The unassuming four piece seemed to leave the motionless audience puzzled, obliterating with a non-stop barrage of intense soundscapes, perfected by the members who had synchronised synth hunches throughout tunes like Stay Lit and Latin America. The sweeping crescendos of Lovely Allen were merely a taster to the crushing pulse of Super Inuit, its layered electronics, bass and drums melding into a superb, bounding melody. Holy Fuck are a band that absolutely must be seen live.

The previously silent audience turned into a free-for-all the moment lights went down for Foals. The mosh was a swarming heap of bodies, crushing in the bid to catch a glimpse of their floppy haired heroes, of whom the biggest cheers were saved for frontman Yannis Phillipakis. The diminutive singer/guitarist is an exceptionally dynamic leader for the band, whether thrashing around the stage with his guitar or angrily yelping into the mic. As he climbed vertigo-inducing speaker stacks or leapt into the crowd face-first (twice!), we winced with fear of him breaking bones, but his passion was contagious.

While he stole most of the spotlight, it was impossible not to admire the skilled drumming of Jack Bevan, as he kept the pace running from the brooding Blue Blood through to the anthemic math pop of Cassius, delivered at twice its speed and unbounded energy stolen from the audience, who at this point were causing the floorboards to quake with their fervent jumping.

Truth is it’s rare to see a band get this kind of reception; there were overwhelming waves of adulation being exhaled from the crowd towards the Oxford five piece, as they cruised through Spanish Sahara, which is yet to find a home in the live realm without sacrificing some of its sparse gravitas, or pummelled the audience into dancing fever with Balloons.  As they closed out with Two Steps Twice, the seated section began to shudder with the vibrations of jumping fans, who would be singing ‘Let’s swim, let’s swim, let’s swim this off’ for a while to come.

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