Live Review – Foals at the Cambridge Corn Exchange 16/11/15

In the studio for their last two albums, Foals have promised aggression and only proved that in small doses. ‘Providence’, ‘Inhaler’ and ‘What Went Down’ are some of their most abrasive songs, but the rest of the album rarely lives up to them. However, that all changes when the band come out on stage. Even the poppier songs, which receive just as warm a welcome as their quirky old math-rock, such as ‘My Number’ and ‘Mountain At My Gates’ are muscled up into fiery rock songs. And then when Foals throw in the harsher tracks like ‘Inhaler’ it makes complete sense why this is one of the best live bands in Britain and doubtless a future major festival headliner – they line up the hits and barrel through them with no note out of place.

There are a few odd tracks for the setlist. ‘Snake Oil’, the opener, fits the bill but is a strange starter track and feels more like a necessary addition on the back of What Went Down. Similarly, ‘London Thunder’ in the encore aims for ‘Spanish Sahara’ levels of atmosphere but aimlessly wanders in the last half. But the rest of the tracks played draw from Foals’ four albums equally, except maybe for Total Life Forever (Though ‘Blue Blood’ has a rare outing). The ability of the band to tinker with older tracks, which are sonically more sparse and jittery, to make them more in line with Holy Fire and What Went Down is amazing – ‘Two Steps, Twice’ as the closing track is no longer the odd indie track with a crescendo, it’s developed from minutes on end during the ‘ba ba da’ section, where frontman Yannis takes it upon himself to crowdsurf his way to the nearest balcony and jump from it to the delight of the audience.

‘What Went Down’ gets one of the biggest responses of the night; a modern favourite and likely Foals’ big festival song. The song transforms Yannis from guitarist with occasional moments of crowd interaction into the rock frontman that he was born to be. The guitar comes free, the barrier between him and the crowd is broken and everyone wants to get a piece of the man. See this band now, because soon the only way you’ll get close to them won’t be next to the barrier at some tiny city venue, but miles away and on a screen.

Find our review of Foals fourth album, What Went Down, here