Foals played the SSE Arena on the 16th February 2016 as part of their first ever UK arena tour. They were supported by Everything Everything, who played an incredibly energetic set filled with manic songs and fascinating robes, and Peace’s Harrison Koisser and Dominic Boyce provided a DJ set to seamlessly connect the pieces in between sets filled with old dance classics and (a bit randomly but warmly welcomed) Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit”.
Foals opened up with “Snake Oil” from their latest album “What Went Down” , which was released last year. This was an exciting start to the set as many fans seemed to know the song, which prepared us for an exciting evening of music with the Oxford lads. They also played other songs from the latest album, including “Birch Tree” (a personal favourite of mine from the latest album), “Mountain At My Gates” and “A Knife in the Ocean”, the final song from “What Went Down”.
They also played a selection of songs from their back catalogue, such as “Spanish Sahara” (Total Life Forever), “Inhaler” (Holy Fire) and “Balloons” (Antidotes). These older songs were enjoyed by all but appreciated most by those who had been there since the beginning, with Yannis Philippakis (lead singer) dedicating some of the older songs to their older fans.
Foals had an incredible stage presence. One which was exemplified throughout their set. Their instrument playing was incredible and encapsulating, whilst the lyrics were sung almost perfectly (even though the sound from Yannis’ mic was faulty at the start of the set, from where we were sat, but this was quickly rectified).
The highlight of the set, for me, was “My Number” from Holy Fire. The song was played third and really saw the audience begin to wake up. Many of the seated were, at this point, standing and dancing along, whereas those who were already stood were all dancing and moving about.
All the songs on the setlist were teamed with brilliantly fascinating set design and light display. At some points there were multiple large LED screens hanging over the band on stage, while at others there was a simple beach-like backdrop. There were lasers galore! This made the set visually stimulating whilst still incredible to hear.
To a chorus of chanting for the band to come back on, they played a three song encore, which consisted of “London Thunder”, “What Went Down” and “Two Steps, Twice”. “What Went Down” is incredibly loud live. It’s mental and is well received by the crowd as they respond with arms waving and loud screaming. It was one of my favourite parts of the set. “Two Steps, Twice”, from Antidotes (Foal’s debut studio album, 2008), whilst simplistic in lyric, doesn’t fail to get the crowd excited as they depart with a sea of clapping hands and screaming fans sending them off.
Overall, Foals played an exciting and energetic set which would excite even non-listeners. They executed all the songs they played perfectly and had amazing stage presence and instrumental skills. This Tuesday night at Wembley arena was a triumph and I hope they come back again and play here again some day. Nonetheless, I am excited to see them co-headline Reading Festival this August with Disclosure. If they can convey a similar set to that of which they played on this arena tour, their Reading set will be undoubtedly a success!