Foals play tracks from Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost in Thetford Forestry Live gig
“This next one is called Exits and it's about how we want to hear birds in a forest like this one,” shouts Yannis Philippakis.
From the reaction of the Thetford Forest crowd, it’s clear Foals are playing to dedicated followers. Around 4,500 have packed in for their Forestry Live gig that precedes two sold-out dates at Alexandra Palace and a worldwide tour of festivals.
In the decade since debut album Antidotes, the Oxford four-piece have established themselves as one of the few British bands capable of headlining a major festival. Two of their albums have been nominated for a Mercury prize and their back catalogue of hits is the envy of many a contemporary. But it is their live show Foals are best known for, picking up Q and NME awards along the way for their performances.
Tonight’s show only enhances that reputation. Stripe-shirted front-man Yannis, in particular, is on top form right from the off with quirky banger On the Luna setting the bar high. With Foals squeezing in a (relatively) small show in Thetford in the middle of a packed summer schedule, they could be forgiven for taking it easier. But giving anything less than a 100 per cent has never been in the band’s nature, and their 18 track set buzzes with the same energy as their 2016 Reading & Leeds headline slot. Surely top billing at Glastonbury is only a matter of time.
The setlist draws heavily from Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost - Part 1, the band’s fifth album, released in March. The band has hinted Part 2, which has been slated for an October release, could have a heavier feel, perhaps in a similar vein to tonight’s penultimate track What Went Down.
Several songs, including latest single In Degrees, have taken the band further in a dance-rock direction but none of the new material sounded out of place alongside early classics like Olympic Airways. While none of the band’s five albums would be considered a drastic departure or a revolution, Foals’ once very much indie-centric sound has gradually become more polished and stadium-worthy. It’s worth noting former calling cards Balloons and Cassius are not played, but the set does not feel weaker in their absence.
Perhaps the biggest cheer is reserved for My Number and its hook that was as ubiquitous as Get Lucky in 2013. At the time Yannis described it as ‘the most pop song we have ever done’ and it was also the band’s highest charting. In another universe Foals might have delved deeper into that goldmine and produced an album of My Number soundalikes. They didn’t, and it’s to their reward they resisted the commercial pull to focus on the music they want to make and (judging by the reception tonight) the fans love.
And it’s at the end of sprawling closer Two Steps, Twice that Yannis and Co. finally take a moment to let the crowd’s adoration sink in. This autumn’s album and ever greater stages await Foals. But for now a few thousand fans are leaving on a sunny evening in a beautiful setting feeling satisfied.
Foals played as part of the Forestry Live series commissioned by Forestry England. The series will also see performances in Thetford Forest from:
Paul Weller (June 21)
Jess Glynne (June 22)
Stereophonics (June 23)
Make sure to check the Bury Free Press website for more reviews.