Foals – Live

The Ritz, Manchester 04/05/2010

By Peter Rea

The Ritz is a great gig venue despite having an interior that hasn’t changed for decades and carpet that clings to your shoes. The layout is ideal for live music with an ample balcony running along the 3 sides that aren’t occupied by a stage. The area downstairs has a bouncy dancefloor and is lit by a huge orange and blue star shaped neon light above. Classy.

My age and concern for my un-insured camera tell me I should be in the balcony away from the inevitable mosh pit. The support act Jonquil received generous applause though I remained indifferent from the sofa/beer sponge that I wish I could’ve visually inspected before sitting on. The between bands mix of laidback hip hop from the likes of The Wu-Tang Clan and The Notorious B.I.G also successfully build the atmosphere, seemingly against all odds.

Foals take to the stage and it’s clear the crowd won’t need convincing that they’re going to enjoy the gig. They start the set with the title track from the soon to be released second album ‘Total Life Forever’. A tune that should be box fresh to most, immediately initiates a sea of raised arms that clap along to the beat. Rumours that the new album is slower than the energetic and live friendly debut ‘Antidotes’ prove temporarily unfounded.

‘Cassius’ follows with instant recognition, the dancefloor swirls wildly like the field of flowers in Chris Cunningham’s ‘I Feel Love’ Gucci advert. Yannis sings from the front left of the stage with Jimmy in an opposing position on the right in a Poxy Music t-shirt. Spotlights cross the front of the stage from the floor to illuminate each guitarist who has their instrument strapped close to their chin like banjo players.

‘Olympic Airways’ continues the tempo and the crowd sing along before the slower (new tune) ‘Blue Blood’. Plodding, simple, music box pitch guitar-picking builds with a funky bass line and understated vocals. It’s a more mature sound than on earlier work but remains sufficiently inventive and inspiring. Old and new are successfully blended to keep the crowd entertained and impressed. The new single ‘This Orient’, as well as ‘Spanish Sahara’, is familiar to the crowd who have clearly done their homework. The tune builds beautifully bringing euphoric, spine tingling moments and shows a sign that the forthcoming album will be a big hit.

‘Red Socks Pugie’ effortlessly re ignites the crowd and Yannis produces his own drum for a wild version of ‘Electric Bloom’. During an instrumental section he climbs on top of a 6 feet stack of amps with his drumsticks as bassist, Walter, looks on in disbelief and bouncers move to steady the wobbling speakers. Everyone reaches for their camera. Back on stage the crazed frontman appears genuinely angry, mouthing swear words into a spare microphone that doesn’t seem to be on, before slamming it onto his floor tom.

Will they come back for an encore? “We Want More” echoes around the room and they return with the promise, rather self consciously, to “…give you what you want”. By this I guess he means first album anthems. ‘The French Open’ is followed by the finale and highlight ‘Two Steps, Twice’, which provokes crowd surfing. Yannis once again uses a break in the singing to be mischievous. He jumps off the stage with his guitar and runs through the side barrier into the crowd. Security desperately follows as he makes a lap of the ground floor before returning to the band from the opposite side. A fan at the front sees this as his chance to make a break for the stage, hurdling the barrier before being rugby tackled and rather comically dragged backstage, to be booted into the street.

Fun loving, enthusiastic and rebellious.

‘Total Life Forever’ is officially released on Monday and is eagerly anticipated.

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