Review: Foals at Barclaycard Arena, Birmingham

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Incredibly, Foals have achieved what even they thought was slightly far fetched. An arena tour for a five-piece who started off playing Math Rock at house parties in Oxford is the stuff of dreams, yet witnessing the band on a stage of such size made complete sense.

Barclaycard Arena is a clean, efficient, high-capacity venue. Comfy seats, large standing area, and a surprisingly full sound made the venue tolerable to a gig goer, like myself, who prefers intimate settings. However, long queues for overpriced beer made me glad I had located a Wetherspoons prior to entering the venue.

Peace almost supported. Their set was comprised of a reasonably uninspired collection of 80’s and 90’s hits, with ‘King Kunta’ by Kendrick Lamar thrown in for good measure. Their DJ set left many of the audience completely unaware of their presence, but at least they looked like they were having an awesome time despite being huddled into the furthest corner of the stage. Who knows why such capable musicians decided to not take advantage of such a large stage and huge audience.

Everything Everything are everything. An infectious stage presence coupled with upbeat tunes completely disguise the brutal cynicism of their lyrics. Their bright fluorescent uniforms perfectly clashed with the seizure-inducing stage lighting, leading to a set so wildly entertaining and completely eye-catching that you almost forgot you were in a 15,000 person capacity venue. They completely held the stage, leading me to conclude they are fully capable of performing their own stadium tour, if only they could fill one. They performed a large majority of songs off their stellar new album Get To Heaven, which I purchased on vinyl as soon as I left the venue and would highly recommend giving a listen if you’re in the mood for a somewhat entertaining existential crisis.

Foals arrived on stage to the heavy intro of ‘Snake Oil’, creating instant anarchy in the audience below me. I have never felt more inappropriately positioned at a gig: Foals are not a band to be seated for. Every few songs I gazed longingly at the ever increasing size of the mosh pit below while the Mum’s and Dad’s around me bopped their heads politely to Yannis screaming “Are you fucking ready Birmingham?” repeatedly. 

Foals proved with every passing song that they are ready to take on the globe and assert themselves among the greats of alternative rock music. ‘My Number’ caused a complete meltdown across the audience, along with ‘Mountain At My Gates’ and the classic ’Spanish Sahara’. 

Their sound filled and completely dominated the whole venue. Guitar riffs and the ever present stream of bass chords collected to concoct an electric atmosphere. The live rendition of ‘Inhaler’ was unparalleled, with sound building to a complete cacophony and making their stage exit twice as jarring as possible.

The encore began with ‘London Thunder’, an unusually sombre choice that, however, flowed perfectly into the opening synth of ‘What Went Down’. Finishing on ‘Two Steps Twice’, Yannis et al left the crowd begging for more. More that I know they are most definitely capable of bringing.

I learnt two things that night. One being that I am willing to commute large distances for Foals. Two being that I am unwilling to accept seated tickets in future. 

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Head of Events for The Edge magazine. Keen concert goer and angry feminist. Shared recycled oxygen on a 12 hour flight with Foals.

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