Sunday 9 December 2012


I never thought I'd be writing a post that even mentioned Aldershot, let alone one that actually featured this fair town's name in its title - yet, here we are. And there we were, in Aldershot, in a spookily empty pub at an acceptable drinking hour waiting to see Foals live at the West End Centre. Measuring the minutes with alcohol (what else?) the time quickly whizzed by and, before we knew it, we were en route to the gig itself; 'exciting' didn't cover it.

This rather intimate gig - the venue is officially 175 capacity, although Wikipedia cites it as something more like like 200 (what's 25 more people, eh?) - is just one in a series of rather intimate gigs, that started in Sheffield and will end in Tunbridge Wells in two days' time, stopping off at Derby, Stoke, Southampton, Bournemouth and Brighton on the way. It's a kind of teaser tour, according to the band themselves:

Thanks to everyone who bought tickets for our mini tour this winter. like we said elsewhere it is only a tease, and for us to get back "into it", so don't stress if you missed out, or if we weren't coming near to your home... because there will be many, many more shows coming up.

So there you have it. A mini-tour. Getting back "into it". Of course. That's what it was.

But it really didn't sound anything like that. It sounded like a polished gig. An actual gig. After the danceable grooves of support Trophy Wife, the main event came down on the crowd like a veritable ton of bricks. With Yannis Philippakis, Foals' frontman, typically animated and fully imbued with the feeling of the very music he's playing, a kind of perpetual motion machine in which he is driven by the music in order to drive the music and so on - a cyclical relationship where energy swaps hands between the band, usually culminating in Yannis getting very excited and jumping from whatever pinnacle the stage happens to offer into a sea of outstretched hands and, seemingly refreshed by crowdsurfing in pure adoration, onto the stage again - the gig was suitably frenzied.

They hopped between big tunes from their back and current catalogue, fever-pitch anthems and let's-have-a-breather tunes that nevertheless had everyone screaming. Starting with muscle-beach-evocative 'Miami' they moved onto 'Blue Blood' and new tune 'My Number', whose unquenchable funk had the whole crowd displaying whatever fancy footwork they could muster. Other songs included the now old-school, sweaty indie disco anthem that is 'Balloons' and the epic builder-upper 'Spanish Sahara', which cooled, calmed, and subsequently set ablaze the room with the band's sheer mastery of dynamics.

After a premature departure from the stage, the band returned to the wild shouts of the crowd to launch into the heaviest-ever-Foals-song 'Inhaler', blowing everybody away, bursting many an eardrum, and getting the whole crowd bouncing around and headbanging - not something you expect from Foals, but something that gives a teaser to their own diverse tastes in music (for instance, I noticed that the drummer, Jack Bevan, was wearing a HEALTH vest - +1 point). Then came the ending: 'Two Steps Twice'. This is Foals' usual gig-closer and, with its addictive beat and that chanting-in-the-stands breakdown and Yannis's brave walk from the stage into the crowd itself, bringing everyone together in shouting out this wordless anthem - a beautiful moment.

Foals are certainly a band that needs to be seen live - not only does their energy onstage lend itself to a better quality of sound (because they really do play for all their worth when onstage), but it leads to an exciting show: they are animated and totally gripped by the energy of their own music, lost in a trance like a whirling Dirvish, none more than Yannis, who steals the show with his daredevil jumps from the speakers and his fearless forays into the crowd itself. Phew. Get tickets to the tour proper next year if you know what's good for you.

The night ended with a maniac running out of his car with a golf club and all the pent up aggression of a 17-year-old with a frigid girlfriend. Not typical Aldershot behaviour, I'm sure.

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