Foals live in London: arena-ready anthems from one of the UK’s greatest live bands

Olympia, May 1: the Oxford trio let the good times roll at their most ambitious show to date during an epic London residency

“It’s a Bank Holiday – are you fucking up for it?,” Foals frontman Yannis Philippakis asks the 10,000-strong, sold-out Olympia crowd on night three of the trio’s repeatedly delayed four-night London residency. They couldn’t have picked a better time to unleash their new-age rave on the capital – not that these fans need an excuse or much encouragement to cut loose. “The last few nights have been fucking crazy,” he goes on, “but they say the third time’s the charm!”

Opening with party starter ‘Wake Me Up’, Foals manifest their desire for upcoming new album ‘Life Is Yours’ to soundtrack the third Summer of Love. Fellow new bangers ‘2am’, ‘2001’ and ‘Looking High’ pop with that same pinger-fuelled hedonism, while their energy is matched by a blockbuster visual feast in their colourful stage set-up, which is worthy of Daft Punk. The once awkward art-rockers are showing us what an arena band looks like.

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This is the group they’ve always threatened to become, and their journey to this point is evident in the textbook indie night bop ‘My Number’, the slick math-rock of ‘Olympic Airwaves’ and a totally euphoric extended disco wig-out added to ‘In Degrees’. The set’s allowed to breathe with the more widescreen moments that come courtesy of ‘Mountain At My Gates’, the aching ‘Late Night’ and the sprawling epic ‘Spanish Sahara’, all of which provide properly spine-tingling moments.

It doesn’t go unnoticed from the stage. “That doesn’t get tiring,” smiles Philippakis at the sight of the audience swaying with phones aloft. “That’s just the sweetest thing to be part of. We live for it”. But, of course, we didn’t come here to slow-dance or stroke our chins. “Are you up for a nasty one?” he asks before tearing into the gnarly, twisted desert-rocker ‘Providence’. “What you saying, then? Shall we blow the fucking roof off the place?”

When Foals save their most devastating weaponry for last with ‘Inhaler’, ‘Black Bull’, ‘What Went Down’ and their massive regular set closer ‘Two Steps, Twice’, there’s little doubt that you’ve just just seen one of the UK’s greatest live bands. The good times are infectious as Philippakis invades the crowd, guitarist Jimmy Smith gets lost in his axe-work and drummer Jack Bevan can’t help but get up for a boogie himself. This is the sweet release that lockdown dreams were made of.

Foals played: 

‘Wake Me Up’
‘The Runner’
‘Mountain at My Gates’
‘2am’
‘Olympic Airways’
‘My Number’
‘Black Gold’
‘Looking High’
‘Birch Tree’
‘In Degrees’
‘2001’
‘Late Night’
‘Spanish Sahara’
‘Providence’
‘Inhaler’
Encore:
‘Black Bull’
‘What Went Down’
‘Two Steps, Twice’

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