REVIEW: Foals at the 3Arena

It’s not a simple task that Foals are faced with – opening a highly anticipated stadium tour in Dublin to masses of fans.

Having released their fourth studio album, ‘What Went Down’, last Augus,t the band are expected to present the crowd with an eclectic set list and opening night is always a daunting task. However, as they arrive on stage it soon becomes apparent that the five strong band from Oxford are about to unveil a high quality show.

As the suave Yannis Philipakis emerges centre stage, he lures in the crowd opening with a pristine version of upbeat Snake Oil from the latest album ‘What Went Down.’ A beautiful array of techni-coloured lighting fills the arena, promising a show that is far beyond vocals and strings.

This unrivalled opening track is followed up with some classics such as Olympic Airwaves, and the infamous My Number, which is accompanied by another more than pleasing light display that does not distract from the sound but instead develops atmosphere in the arena.

Spanish Sahara – an institution for fans in terms of Foals’ back catalogue – sits as one of the stand-out performances of the night which the band slowly build up from a quiet intro to an electrifying performance in an insane crescendo.

One of the most notable moments about this performance is when lead guitarist Jimmy Smith takes centre stage as he and Phillipakis work in unison to create a stunning on-stage chemistry which translates into the crowd. They clap in sync with the lyrics “Forget the horror here, leave it all down here, it’s future rust and its future dust.”

In a venue such as the 3Arenam it can often be difficult to encapsulate an intimate or authentic sound. However, the enthralling vocals of Philipakis during the performance of A Knife in the Ocean creates a sound reminiscent to that of a cathedral singer. The raw emotion that stands alongside the almost acapella vocals are haunting.

Closing the first part of the show is a quintessential Foals anthem Inhaler, which turns the venue into a dance emporium for its duration, but in true Foals manner, this club has class and style that is upheld right until the end.

To their credit, the encore is just as elevating as the first section of the show. Returning on stage with London Thunder, the subtle guitar riff between the lyrics fills the arena with ambience. The professionalism of the set remains intact as a hue of red light fills the arena whilst the crowd listen with awe.

The chemistry between the band appears genuine and natural as centre age Philipakis swoons the crowd into the palm of his hand speaking to them with kind words describing the night as ‘surreal.’ It is clear that this surreal sense is felt too by the audience as they cheer.

All of the elements of an authentic rock and roll show are in place – this gig has Foals and their unmistakable musical and physical presence trademarked in every corner. From an outstanding stage dive by Yannis to the sense of seventies anarchy within the crowd brought about by closing track Two Steps, Twice. The show brings about a wide collection of visceral moments.

It is easy for a stadium show to be over-done and underwhelming. However this is not the case for Foals. Each element works perfectly. Aside from the outstanding musicianship and crowd interaction, the one thing that becomes most apparent is the evident hard labour that has gone into the show by both the musicians and their production team. Everything from the lighting to the remarkable sound speaks of quality and sheer understanding amongst members.

It is most definitely a positive time for Foals and their music, it is not often that a show  could accompany and album as outstanding as ‘What Went Down’. Foals seem to have achieved what many cannot do.


Aisling Louglin

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