Hey Glasto, you might wanna get ready for Foals. Word on the street is that they very well might be heading to the farm for a secret set this weekend. If they do, you’ll be witnessing a vision of headliners to come.
The last time they played was on the Pyramid Stage back in 2016. They were subbing for Muse, who were at the top of the bill on their ‘Drones’ tour. It was the day that news of Brexit broke. While Muse seemed to just roll through the motions with their third but not their best Glasto headline set of stadium anthemia while not addressing the Brelephant in the room, Foals inspired both defiance and togetherness.
“I know for a lot of people today was a disappointing day but whatever the politics, the sun is out, this is a big day for you, a big day for us – let’s make this special,” said frontman Yannis Phillipakis, wearing a vest emblazoned with the words ‘abuse of power comes as no surprise’. As he clambered into the crowd, Foals brought a visceral exorcism to the Glastonbury masses when they needed it most. They blew Muse off the stage before they’d even arrived. The night was theirs.
Foals’ Yannis Philippakis live at London’s Alexandra Palace
Three years later and Foals are touring their cinematic sci-fi epic ‘Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 1‘ – an album that takes in all the mathy intricacy, wondering subtlety and sheer brutality of the sound that they’ve fostered over the years, and adds it to a refined palette of dancey sounds and spacey ambience. It’s a record crying out for arenas, as we learned at Alexandra Palace last weekend.
Backed by a magnificent stage show of swaying palm trees, lasers and projections of cut-up footage, it feels like you’re dancing through tropical but apocalyptic rave. ‘My Number’ lands as an automatic and inescapable bop, the aching masterpiece of ‘Spanish Sahara’ sees the room wander from awed silence to a full-on mosh, and the skittering ‘Red Socks Pugie’ from their 2008 debut still buzzes with the flashes of brilliance that they had from the off. However, it’s the new ones that rendered Foals in their prime on the night. The short-sharp burst of ‘On The Luna’ allow the band to flex the quirks of their chemistry to their fullest, ‘Exits’ showcases the band’s knack for proper, sophisticated art-pop, and ‘In Degrees’ just fucking slaps. There’s a festival anthem right there, if ever there was one.
They also provide a taste of the future, with the band kicking off the encore with ‘Black Bull’. The first cut from the follow-up ‘Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 2’, you can totally see what Yannis meant when he warned us that “It’s a rock record with a capital R… maybe two Rs…” And how. With a razor-wire riff and the rhythm of the best getaway music, it already sounds very much like the paranoid but evolved sequel to ‘Inhaler’ and ‘What Went Down’.
After exploring every inch of Ally Pally, Foals have ticker tape rains down for the squawking and feral closer of the glitchy but glorious ‘Two Steps, Twice’. With Yannis clambering through the sold-out crowd, you question what more this band could possibly give.
They’ve got the chops, they’ve got the bangers and they’ve got the spirit to pull off that hallowed Pyramid top spot. Fingers crossed that this Glasto will see them make their fifth appearance by surprise, popping up on The Park or tucked away in a tent. Go down. Make it special. Next time, they’ll be playing the big one.