Three albums into their career, Foals can now firmly stake a claim to being the nation’s current stalwarts of the indie scene. Those in attendance tonight clearly agree; revelling despite the stringent security at tonight’s venue and the very fact that it is Wednesday. It is clear from an early stage tonight that proceedings will be sweaty.
It doesn’t take long before we see some floppy hair-styled heads flapping, as Prelude greets its audience with an escalating swirl of atmospheric guitar. Jimmy Smith has been given the role of getting the crowd moving, and he stands, a la Noel Gallagher (shades and all), alone with his guitar astride the lip of the stage. Things are warming up.
This introduction is relatively temperate in comparison to what follows, with Miami and My Number bringing tropical rhythms to the freezing south coast. Harmonies abound as Yannis prowls the stage, while audience members try and perfect the difficult art that is looking cool while dancing. It’s testament to Foals’ ear for an unashamedly catchy pop song that a song which was released only a matter of months ago is greeted with as much warmth as songs years its senior, and plenty more dancing.
Despite this, Milk and Black Spiders’ presents a relatively unknown quantity to vast majority, and despite the evident quality in the swooning sounds emitting from stage it is largely unsuccessful in withdrawing anything more than a murmur from tonight’s audience. Before things have time to cool down, however, fan favourite Balloons emerges from the considerable song canon available tonight. Bonus drumming on behalf of the frontman is clearly required, and so it is used. There is now no chance of remaining cool, as the infectious and circulating rhythms of the past single echo around the angular room. Limbs fly around as freely as pints, particularly when the scattergun moments of heavy rock enter into events.
Latest single Late Night receives an airing, and appears to be fast rivalling the ever epic Spanish Sahara in terms of sheer tender beauty. Ethereal synths cascade alongside Yannis’ faithful accompaniment, and are rewarded by a screaming singalong from all quarters.
It’s been known for a while that Foals are fond of dropping some hard rock elements into their live shows, but Inhaler was a watershed moment for the band. The moment that the sunny nature in their music was taken roughly by a gang of black-metal fans and beaten savagely with a pole. The massive response that the sacheting opening to the song receives only serves to reinforce this, with what follows bordering on the downright outrageous. Tortured vocals and screaming guitars combine to create a sound that wouldn’t be out of place in Seattle circa 1992, and the beefed up sound encourages the more beefed up amongst us to literally begin stampeding.
Two Steps, Twice finishes the set, with an extended breakdown bringing the sweltering moshers to a rabid state before releasing them under the esteem of a thrashing guitar and drum hammering. Spent, the band says their thanks. Judging by the glazed appreciation across the sweaty faces in Portsmouth this evening, the thank-yous are reciprocated ten-fold.