You know the sort of shows that should need planning permission for the spectacle they’re about to put on? That’s what Foals thrive on. In that raw and fizzing setting, where anything goes, and all that’s there is a band in their prime laying it all out – the ultimate distillation of the primal spirit bands can entail. There are few who can do it as well as Foals can, and it’s that which makes a tiny show tucked in a basement in Hackney so undeniable and special.
The last time Foals took the stage in London, it was headlining a field to over 40,000 people. The victory lap from an album that capped their undeniable rise to the top, one that saw them headlining Reading & Leeds and proving to the world that they’re a band of indisputable importance. The early years of grafting away in bars and clubs had paid dividends, and they stood atop the pile as a band like no other.
It’s fitting with their new chapter that it starts again here, capping off a quickfire run of club-sized rooms at the underground confines of EartH. As Yannis points out during the set, there’s a worldwide run on the horizon, and when they’re looking out at packed fields and venues in distant lands, they want to remember back to this very night. They won’t be the only ones, in fact, it’ll be pretty impossible for the lucky ones gathered to ever forget it.
‘Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost’ is a beckoning new chapter, one of change of evolution that finds Foals embracing a new world by looking back and forward at the same time. The bright cuts that find their way into the set tonight prove that. ‘On The Luna’ opens things up with a shake and hustle that has EartH captured from the first note, while the prowling ‘Exits’ has a potent punch that clearly stands at their confident best.
Yet what makes tonight so special is the reminder of how unstoppable a live band Foals are. That history of warehouse shows and tearing down venues massive and minuscule has taken them to whole new levels, and they’re tighter than ever. ‘Mountain At My Gates’ and ‘My Number’ are early show-stoppers, the flex of a muscle that has Foals acknowledging that yeah, they have the hits to deliver a stunning show – but they’re about serving up more than that. The latter, segued into with a palpable ‘Olympic Airways’ and morphing into ‘Black Gold’, perfectly captures a fact. That Foals are the club-laced kings that have grown to where they are because above all else, they throw a party that nobody else can top.
With their frontman leading the charge, both effortlessly mesmeric and bulldozing in equal measure, the night is theirs. Whether it’s stripping raw with ‘Spanish Sahara’, still as powerful now as it was when it first came out, or the ‘pocalyptic rhythms of ‘Red Socks Pugie’ – once they’re rolling Foals are a force that engulfs everything around them. Weaving those new cuts into established classics, it’s a riotous run that threatens to bring the roof down with its sheer force.
In ‘Sunday’, Foals have the perfect mix as Born Slippy club-vibes meet stadium anthem for a track that triggers different reactions every 30 seconds. Fresher slates such as the bubbling ‘Syrups’ and the ripping ‘In Degrees’ (the latter the sort of nu-rave classic that on first listen has EartH bouncing and moving with glow-stick fever) are born for the live stage – practically vibrating with immediacy and that tenacity that practically pulls you into every move.
Perfectly fitting with everything Foals are about, they surge to take this night higher and higher with a run through a hypnotic cry of ‘Late Night’ before Yannis climbs into the crowd and atop speakers for a one-two knockout of ‘Providence’ and ‘Inhaler’ that not only has the room sweating but awe-struck.
Returning to the stage, Foals have EartH at their every whim – the points and struts Yannis throws out now commanding an army to move and fight with every grit and flick. ‘What Went Down’ is like throwing dynamite into a confetti cannon – spectacular and visceral, as if the time away has only fed that hunger and passion, even more, to kick against their surroundings.
As customary closer ‘Two Steps, Twice’ finds Yannis returning to the floor, climbing on bars and downing shots, there’s that feeling in the air that we all should have remembered. Foals aren’t like any other band, because no other band can come close to what Foals are all about. It’s a pack with one goal in mind, to take over and stand on top as the best band in the world.
With Part 1 of ‘Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost’ out just over an hour and a half after the last note tonight rings out, tonight is proof that Foals continue to get bolder and beefier with their punches. EartH is a clear-cut knockout if we ever did see one.
“Yeah, have some of that,” roars Yannis after ‘What Went Down’. Get ready, world.
Words: Jamie Muir