October 31, 2008
Stepping up to a venue that’s housed legends, Yannis' mob show they're big enough beasts to fill it. Brixton Academy, London (October 16)
The dressing room says it all, really. A mixture of Bacchanalian debauchery (mojitos, grapes, buckets of booze, champagne, vodka smoothies) and kids’ birthday decorations (party poppers, inflatable microphones, transfer tattoos), it’s a room decorated to celebrate, overstuffed with fans, groupies and most of the band’s parents.
The fact that it’s the dressing room for Brixton Academy’s yawning 5,000-capacity amphitheatre of champions (Bob Dylan, The Clash, The Smiths’ last ever show…) confirms it – Foals have arrived. Tonight is the final hurdle of their first gallop round a touring circuit that’s seen venues, crowds and fame increase exponentially. “I feel fucking stoked,” singer Yannis Philippakis grins backstage. “I’m finding it hard to take stuff in at the moment, partly because my mind’s so clogged with THC. There’s only a few venues with this kind of history. It’s like when we played Nottingham’s Rock City after years of watching Nirvana bootleg DVDs from there.
Anyone suspecting that Foals’ intricate Rubik’s-rock won’t translate to such palatial surroundings has their suspicions confirmed by the first 10 minutes, which, while not flat, don’t resonate beyond the first barrier. Such quibbles are short-lived, though, as the next hour shows a band rinsing the hell out of one album and some early singles to mass mania. Recent single ‘Olympic Airways’ gets the first truly euphoric response, while ‘Balloons’ has its intro dragged out slowly by a band that have learned the true currency of their songs. ‘Red Socks Pugie’, and particularly ‘Tron’, meanwhile, remind us of the depth behind their (perceived) math-rock sterility.There’s a palpable sense of excitement pulsing through the Academy tonight. It’s in Yannis as he amp-surfs during ‘Cassius’, it propels Jack through a metronome-tight ‘Hummer’, and it’s coursing through the arteries of the crowd as drummers from support bands Holy Fuck and Dananananaykroyd line up to join the band in a six-tom drumalong to encore ‘Two Steps, Twice’. “I have a problem with physical achievements like this,” Yannis reflects later. “They don’t last.” Whether or not Foals will return here depends largely on the second album, which “may be recorded in Hawaii –we’ve become obsessed with bands like The Shadows and The Ventures”. Here’s hoping. Step one, fully bridged.
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