Review by James Hendicott

Foals – The Olympia, Dublin – November 15th

Foals supported by Pulled Apart By Horses… good work, whoever came up with the equine theme for tonight. To be fair to Pulled Apart By Horses, though, they’re a quality act in their own right, blending jarring, fist-pumping guitars with vocals lifted straight from a thrash metal track and occasionally doubled up for added oomph. As if it was needed. Closer ‘I’ll Make You Dance With My Balls Of Fire’ and the still more ridiculous ‘High Five, Swan Dive, Nose Dive’ epitomize the performance, featuring un petit front row stage diving and the guitarist leaping painfully from a stage-side speaker. Full marks for energy, and the music’s not half bad, either.

Foals, though, are not the types to be outdone on their own tour. Yannis and co emerge from backstage tonight to the kind of hype that’s usually reserved for home town returning heroes, and proceed to induce utter chaos in what must be one of the most energetic (bordering on violent) and yet sublime gigs that the fragile looking Olympia’s ever had the good fortune to host. Tonight’s show goes so far beyond the slight decline of ‘difficult’ second album ‘Total Life Forever’ that it’s the two are almost incomparable.

Extracting huge, dance-infected yet moshable rhythms that soar on for solo after solo from their shambolic yet beautifully fused instrumentation, tonight’s four-piece proceed to demonstrate exactly why they’ve been hailed as one of the UK’s top live acts. While early single ‘Cassius’ is a massive, tuneful, thumping highlight mid way through the set, the extended instrumentals of nearly every track they play see the place come to life, arms raised and bouncing away triumphantly. Bizarrely, while the top floor have been on their feet from the start, the middle balcony is still sat sedately in what seems like wide-mouthed shock for most of the show.

By the time ‘2 Trees’ and ‘Spanish Sahara’ come round, Yannis still hasn’t stretched himself to speaking more than a dozen words to the assembled. During a magnificent ‘Red Socks Pugie’ the vocalist leaps from the set, complete with guitar, head butts the barrier in the front row and then proceeds to run around back stage and complete the last of his vocals. The electro rhythms pulse, the walls sweat with the sheer latent energy of a crowd pumped up to a startlingly high, and before we know it, Foals are taking one of the longest encore breaks we’ve ever witnessed to a relentless ‘ole’ ringing around the place. The 75 minutes of the main set molds exquisitely into one long, ever-morphing wall of beat-driven, slurring sound.

Then comes the highest of highs. As a mammoth version of ‘Two Steps, Twice’ rings around the Olympia, Yannis disappears off the stage, clambering up through the royal boxes and then balancing triumphantly over a roaring crowd in a precarious position one floor up. He might be a front man who at times seems bordering in shy in his reluctance to break the band’s pounding live rhythm with anything in the way of introductions, but he’s a performer who utterly astounds in his commitment to the cause. The stirring energy slowly builds, and finally climaxes the most relentless and vicious of performances. On a night of music that featured the likes of Local Natives, Diana Vickers and Carl Barat strutting their stuff on Dublin stages, tickets to see the Foals were undoubtedly the most sought after. After a no-holds-barred show that stops just short of leaving blood on the stage, tonight doesn’t leave a shadow of doubt why.