At breakneck speed, Foals deliver a weekend highlight with a storming surprise performance on the NME stage at Reading 2015.
Opening with fan favourite My Number, Yannis Philippakis and co do well not to be drowned out by their adoring crowd. With this, an unrelenting energy shared between both band and crowd encapsulates Foals’ surprise Saturday set in its entirety. Well aware of the drill by now, the packed NME tent wastes no time in bouncing with purpose and intent the moment drummer Jack Bevan kicks into the opening drum line of My Number. Setting the tone for a short, but intense half hour set, Philippakis follows Bevan’s lead, offering no compromise on his atypical no holds barred performance style. Like a man possessed, Philippakis conducts his faithful orchestra as they chant with him ‘You don’t have my number. We don’t need each other now.’ Hands clap. Mosh pits fly. Sweat drips. This is the drama that Reading has been waiting for and Foals certainly don’t disappoint.
Bringing the NME tent to raptures at the close of My Number, Foals offer no sign of letting up as they move straight into Mountain at my Gates taken from their Friday album release, What Went Down. With this, despite its recent release date, Foals reaffirm their position at the forefront of British guitar music as once again, the crowd chant every word back at Philipakis without fail.
After their lightening performance of Holy Fire’s, Inhaler we receive our first break in the set – the first chance to catch our breath. The cornerstone of every Foals performance, Spanish Saharaenters in and once again it perverses the boundaries of natural human behaviour, forcing the crowd into a hypnotic lull. We to and fro with Edwin Congreave’s arppegiated synths before the influx of the climatic ending that brings something reminiscent of an outer body experience. In truth, to describe Spanish Sahara as a ‘break’ is a little misleading. It provides – as it always does – a moment of pure escapism that the Reading crowd bask in.
With the same conviction and power, Foals bash through Red Sox Pugie, taken from their debut record Antidotes, before finishing with their debut single from their fourth album, What Went Down. This, just as menacing asInhaler, only darker and thicker than we ever seen Foals. This is Bevan, Congreave, Philippakis, Gervers and Smith at their absolute best, as Philippakis spits down the mic, ‘I’m a sycophantic animal’.
Foals are a well oiled unit with an irresistible rawness and honesty that is only getting better and better. Importantly, whilst Philipakis is a commanding presence, Foals are a collective unit that have arrived at a seminal moment in their musical path, together. Foals leave swiftly, having clearly appreciated the response of the Reading crowd but here, we are left with a burning desire for more. 2015/2016 promises to be an outstanding year for the Oxford outfit and after today’s set, we can’t wait.