Foals headed on a tour of small venues across the country to road test new material from their new album ‘Holy Fire’, released on 11 February 2013. Appearing at Aldershot’s West End Centre for the first time, the five piece brought along stellar support in the shape of fellow Oxfordonians Trophy Wife, whose mixture of sun-drenched harmonies, crooked pop and pedal-led effects really did hint at a band ready to head on to bigger things.
The sold-out crowd was waiting with baited breath for Foals to make their entrance and as soon as they walked on there was an eruption of cheers, especially when frontman Yannis Philippakis made his way to the front centre of the stage. Despite it almost being their trademark setup, the band no longer play facing each other, instead all focussing straight on to the audience. As a result, there is more of a connection and a real rapport develops between crowd and band, something needed with a prestigious show at the huge Royal Albert Hall coming up in March. Opening with new instrumental ‘Pavlov’, it didn’t take long for the crowd to lose their inhibitions and this was just enhanced by the constant run of hits that came after – ‘Miami’, ‘Balloons’, ‘Total Life Forever’ all making appearances early on in the set. Fresh from its appearance on Jools Holland, the new song ‘My Number’ already sounds for all the world like an indie-disco classic, with its samba vibe and instant likeability. Expect to hear a lot of it over the next year.
The band looked genuinely pleased to be back on stage, with various members beaming from ear to ear throughout, and two moments really summed up how much fun they were having – when guitarist Jimmy Smith started playing his guitar with a model owl and Yannis randomly appearing, while playing guitar, at the sound desk for the thrilling finale of ‘Two Steps, Twice’. As the band got more into it, their loyal batch of fans (many of whom had travelled a fair distance) lapped up the opportunity to see them in such intimate surroundings. It brought back some of the youthful exuberance and excitement from their early shows and when the band broke into old classic ‘Red Socks Pugie’, everyone in the building appeared to be singing, dancing or at least giving a little shuffle of the shoulders. The closing song of the main set was an extended version of ‘Electric Bloom’ that would have left most happy, but when the band returned and launched straight into the divisive new single ‘Inhaler’, it really did prove this was an exceptional gig. ‘Inhaler’ takes on a life of its own live, with the screams making it both hard to ignore but also easy to love. It shows a band confident in their ability to pull off the unexpected and this whole gig only emphasised the fact that 2013 will be a big year for Foals. ‘Holy Fire’ will be burning across the festivals.