Since day one, Foals have carved out a reputation as masters of the feral, sweaty, hedonistic live show. Whether it’s playing to heaving house parties or headlining festivals, the Oxford quintet know exactly how to play it. Now, the band have announced the biggest tour of their careers, culminating in a mammoth show at London’s 12,500-capacity Wembley Arena. Here are the 10 biggest live tracks that they’d be mad to miss off the setlist.
Taken from 2010 second LP ‘Total Life Forever’, ‘Miami’ has got some serious swagger. Drummer Jack Bevan provides a loose-limbed beat upon which his compadres pepper economical guitar licks and just enough of a funk lilt to get the hips working. A laid back banger.
A live staple of their sets since ‘Holy Fire’, ‘Providence’ stomps along on repeated mantras of blood and animalistic urges as guitarist Jimmy Smith’s melodic stabs drive it forward. Primal and intense, its a track that’s built for getting under the skin of a crowd and when it peaks, the pay-off is a blitzkrieg of mosh-ready uncompromising noise.
An old 2007 standalone single from before their debut, ‘Hummer’ was all but abandoned by the band for years without so much as a cursory live performance for old times’ sake. At the end of their last UK tour, however, the group started putting its yelping, agitated twitches back into the setlist again and, eight years down the line, the track still sounds as infectiously, brilliantly neurotic as it did on first release.
7 ‘Snake Oil’
Foals have been opening their recent run of European dates with this one and you can understand why. Sleazy, sexy and just a little bit scuffed around the edges, ‘Snake Oil’ sets the tone for Foals’ sonic assault from the off. No half measures. Go hard or go home.
6 ‘Electric Bloom’
This one might be wishful thinking as Foals have been leaving ‘Electric Bloom’ out for a while now, but let’s consider this the start of the petition for its tour inclusion. While the ‘Antidotes’ recorded version is full of ominous intensity, live, it stalks and storms the stage like its possessed. With Yannis beating the living shit out of a floor tom placed front and centre, ‘Electric Bloom’ adds another forceful dynamic to the band’s already mighty live show.
5 ‘Spanish Sahara’
Not all the big tunes have to be the loudest or the most frenetic. Some – like 2010 classic ‘Spanish Sahara’ – hold their power in what they don’t do. The first half of the track is little more than Yannis’ emotive husk and bare, sparse guitar plucks and yet, from the off, it holds the crowd in the palm of its hand. By the time the “choir of furies” at its heart have escalated and erupted in a glorious climax of sonic catharsis, you’d have to be made of stone not to have a bit of a moment.
4 ‘Mountain At My Gate’
The second single taken from this year’s ‘What Went Down’, ‘Mountain At My Gates’ already feels like a Foals classic. Centred around a deep, pulsing guitar groove, it builds and builds into a vocal exorcism and a wall of sound. In a venue the size of Wembley, its climax is sure to be nothing short of religious.
When ‘Inhaler’ first arrived at the tail end of 2012, announcing third LP ‘Holy Fire’, its juggernaut riffs and blistering peaks were easily the boldest, biggest, most bad-ass thing the band had done. Live, it remains a set highlight, its needling opening guitar phrase teeing up the tension before band and crowd erupt in one sweaty mass.
2 ‘Two Steps Twice’
An established set-closer since debut LP ‘Antidotes’ back in 2008, ‘Two Steps Twice’ is all about the slow-build. It begins with an interplay of needling guitars and oblique, cryptic lyrics before we reach Side Two. Drums intensify, the guitar loop gets more urgent, Yannis revs the crowd up to the point of explosion and then: bang. Also, it’s a rare day when Philippakis doesn’t end up throwing himself into the throng during this one.
1 ‘What Went Down’
In which Foals ditch any hangover of their former tag as tricksy mathletes in favour of howling vocals and barbaric riffs that could split the atom. The track’s first plays on British soil this summer saw Reading and Leeds festival lose its shit en masse as frontman Yannis Philippakis screamed his lungs out. Expect total carnage. Their Uk arena tour starts in February 2016. O2 customers can get Priority Tickets 48 hours before general release.