REVIEW: Foals, O2 Academy, Newcastle

Foals performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.
Foals performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.
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Foals proved that they're now the complete rock band thanks to a riotous sell-out gig in Newcastle.

With a rip-roaring set filled with critically-acclaimed material, one of the world's best live acts brought the house down in a venue they've now outgrown.

Foals performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Foals performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Yannis Philippakis spent much of their three-song encore in the audience, stood atop two of the venue's bars before crowd-surfing his way back to the front.

It wasn't a concert for the weak at heart, as a raucous crowd sat on shoulders, briefly attempted a mosh pit, and used every inch of the O2 Academy, especially during the

heavier moments of Foals' set.

There was even an injury, as a young male was left bleeding from the face after Yannis had crowd-surfed, although he took it in good spirits and said he felt "fine" to concerned staff.

Foals performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Foals performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

The band loved it, telling the audience that they wished they could play the city every night, and promising that they "don't say that everywhere".

But it may be their last Academy appearance for the foreseeable future, with the band advancing to arenas for their 2016 tour - although the closest date will be in Leeds.

Earlier, London band Real Lies had opened the show, taking to the stage much later than scheduled and introducing themselves to an already-packed venue with a 30-minute set.

But, undercooked and with poor sound, they failed to make up for their late arrival and did little to dazzle an audience very much there for the main event - although it may have been a bad night at the office.

Foals performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Foals performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

There were no such issues as Foals took to the stage, emerging to strobing lights and screams from the crowd.

Snake Oil and Mountain At My Gates, both taken from their 2015 album What Went Down, opened and set the tone for a set from a band that have became heavier and more rock-oriented as the years have wore on.

Certainly, when Foals released their 2008 debut Antidotes - a math rock album with melancholy themes - nobody would have expected them to become the performers they are today.

It wasn't all rock, though, as crowd pleaser My Number and Blue Blood appeared back-to-back, both indie disco anthems which got the crowd dancing.

Foals performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Foals performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Foals also played the mellow London Thunder, only its third live appearance, as fans gently clapped along before the band turned the heat back up for Providence, Late Night and 2010 favourite Spanish Sahara.

Throughout the set Yannis had teased entering the crowd, only going so far as to mingle with the front row, and as their main set closed with Inhaler the anticipation was that he properly adventure during the encore.

One rumour was that he would appear on the O2 Academy's balcony, which he had attempted to jump off in a previous year, although he wouldn't go to such extremes this time round.

Kicking off their final three songs with Hummer, the song that followed - What Went Down - was a catalyst for Yannis to get up-close and personal with the audience again.

But things only got turned explosive during Two Stops, Twice, as Yannis shed the confines of the stage area and wandered unprotected into the abyss in a way that few musicians might feel appropriate to do.

First appearing on a side bar, he made his way to the back of the venue, drinking fans' beverages as crowds gathered around him, many attempting to snap a photo with their phones.

Foals performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Foals performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

He would then make his way back atop the crowd, surfing his way home before completing the song on-stage.

It was the perfect way to end an explosive show, full of loud rock breakdowns and that special something that is missing from all but a select few contemporary bands.

And, as the crowds filtered out, it was worth wondering if they'll play many club shows like this again - making this a special show that will live on memorably for all those that were there to experience it.

Foals performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Foals performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Foals performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Foals performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Foals performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Foals performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Foals performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

Foals performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.