Foals @ Gloucester Guildhall - 4th December 2012
One gig to rule them all, one gig to find them,
One gig to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.
Chock-full of indie youth it was, but there will come a day far, far in the future when last night's Foals gig will be a half-forgotten memory to all who attended. Facts about the event will blend with folklore. Some half-truths will creep in, others will creep out; events will be spun more than Alistair Campbell at a clay pot-making class.
I once heard that in the eighties, a late friend of my dad's busted Bono in the chops right up on stage. Admittedly, the details were hazy and lacked the necessary corroboration for me to take his claim to fame seriously. He was a drunk with a Napoleon complex so he may have just clobbered an Irishman with long hair, sunglasses and the ego the size of Kent. The point I'm trying to make is this: spin and subjectivity is everywhere.
However, spin and subjectivity can take a walk on this occasion. This is the cold, hard truth: Foals nailed it. No one can be disappointed after a gig like that.
|From left to right: me, Neil, Cat (Neil's girlfriend), James (my brother).|
The above picture was taken in the Gloucester Guildhall art gallery, which I full encourage everyone to visit at their earliest opportunity. Neil and Cat studied photography and film respectively at university so they'd be better placed to remark on the composition of the photo, but I'm glad with how it turned out. There's something about the two pillars behind, the sky light above it and the somewhat sterile setting that enhances its position among my otherwise amateurish "oeuvre" on my phone to something that may one day be printed and framed. We had leant my phone on Cat's purse and put it on a ten second timer. We got into our own places and it seemed to work. And it just so happened that no security guards had been walking past at the time to tell any of us to remove ourselves from the table that had, in its position as a centrepiece, hitherto been given the reverence it deserved. Totally worth the risk.
The t-shirt I'm wearing in the picture was designed by Neil and Cat, whose fashion blog can be found here. The strings of the harp are lyrics from Joanna Newsom's This Side of the Blue. I have since bought a Foals t-shirt that I fully intend to wear continuously for upwards of six months.
N&C had come down from Brighton especially, as did James from Birmingham. My links with Gloucester Guildhall meant I knew about the Foals gig as soon as it was announced. I was also able to get involved with the pre-sale before many knew the Oxford-based Math Rockers would be paying us a visit. I'd pre-ordered four tickets because it felt like a good number. It was just a case of finding three other people who wanted to come. Luckily, Neil, Cat and James obliged. No money changed hands: it was my treat.
The gig was everything I'd hoped for. Even though it seemed they had a lot of equipment problems towards the end of the set, the acoustics overall were spot on. The drums especially were to die for; the beat was often crisper than a brass bell - kudos to drummer Jack Bevan. That chap's got skills. Coupled with the dreamy, hypnotic riffs we've grown to expect of Foals, the escalation of sound often culminated in a full-on audience frenzy. It was Yannis Philippakis, though, that gave the gig its energy. The official gig photos didn't capture his spirit on stage. He was everything you could want in a lead singer: professional and focused but willing to go off script at times, most notably on the several occasions when he jumped down and disappeared into the crowd, or when he climbed atop a rather large speaker, as evidence in this photo.
And a final word: if their new songs are anything to go by, Foals' leap from small-town indie rockers of their debut album to NME Award-winning, Red Hot Chilli Pepper-supporting stadium behemoths of their second was no coincidence. It looks very much like their third album will facilitate another great leap forwards for Foals.