The terrorist strikes in Paris over the weekend could have thrown a shadow over any subsequent live music events in Europe, and indeed have led to the cancellation of many high profile gigs on the Continent. The day before this, the final night of the tour, Foals lead singer Yannis Philippakis, fired off a series of tweets to express his disgust at the murderous attack on gig goers at the Bataclan Concert Hall.
The power of whats shared on a nightly basis is something purer, more profound & more powerful than any ideology that attacks it.
Fuck you to the oppressors of culture, fuck you to the suppressors of life. Amen
So this had the potential to turn into a sombre and rather preachy affair, but apart from the sight of Foals fans performing “flashing” manoeuvres as security guards checked jackets at the entrance, there was no hint of tension in the crowd.
The set list kicked off in a rowdy fashion with the big riffed Snake Oil and blew any thoughts other than pure musical lust out of the window. Next came Mountain At My Gate – a fabulous song, the imagery is that of seeing a mountain, a challenge, finding the footholds to tackle it and then leaving it behind. Accompanied by a muse of guitar tinkering, it starts as quite a light catchy number, then descends into the mass of Foals energy you’d expect. But the gig was by no means just about touring material from the recent Top 5 album, What Went Down. There was a selection from the whole back catalogue – My Number, about as poppy as Foals get, rightly receiving a massive cheer. The clamour and intensity simply built and built through the night, a slight moment of calm prevailing for London Thunder. Live, the tunes are racked up massively and take the sound to another level of ferocity. All accompanied by a light show that had the retina twitching in protest.
There were, of course, the famous forays into the crowd as Yannis (aka Pegasus) jubilantly chucked himself about (crash helmets required down at the front) performing a particularly impressive dive from the side railing. Unseen from the balcony, social media is a godsend for capturing such moments. As frontmen go, he’s got beef. On leaving, a crowd member was heard to comment that he must have had his three Shredded Wheat for breakfast. Four is even a possibility.
The main set finished with Providence (a monster) and Inhaler (even more of a monster). Masters of deception, Inhaler starts with a light touch and soon turns into a heathen howl. Then in the encore comes its beastly incarnation, What Went Down. Fabulous wickedness is thus created via the medium of deep bass and guitar riffs from Hell. Finishing with Two Steps, Twice, by this time there was the mosh pit version of the Conga going down on the floor.
In the end there was no need for Yannis or anyone else to say anything about Paris. The truth is, the sheer weight evidence of why live music is an unconquerable force was right there in the Corn Exchange. You made your point, Foals.
Fan footage of Inhaler: