A band well and truly in their prime
Jonny Edge
00:33 13th June 2019

Fresh from a solid festival run, and a short succession of smaller venue shows in Manchester, Edinburgh and London, Foals' UK Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost tour kicked off... Again... In earnest on 11 June at Victoria Warehouse, Manchester. And what a show it was.

Up until this show, the first and last time I saw Foals was on their Antidotes tour, twelve years ago. Ever since then, I've watched them go from strength to strength like a distant father only allowed to see them at weekends, and even then, they begrudge my presence. Quite how far they've come since then cannot be understated. They are a band at the absolute top of their game, a thorough joy to see live. They are an altogether tighter, more confident band than they were twelve years ago, and I can't see them plateauing any time soon.

But first things first, the setlist. Though understandably weighted towards the first part of Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost, it's a career spanning set – with every album faithfully represented. The band meander between their five albums, and their distinct sounds, effortlessly. The stripped back, unashamed noughties indie with piercing, intricate riff work seen in Antidotes sits alongside the higher concept production of Everything Not Saved..., and the stadium ready singles from What Went Down – you name it, it just works. The band smoothly segue between songs that were never meant to be played together with an adeptness I haven't seen before. As I say, a band clearly at the top of their game. There's such a confidence to their stagecraft and sheer musicianship that they could get away with much less in the way of set dressing around them and still captivate.

It's a good thing that they don't, though, because what a stage it is. The band are flanked by palm leaves suspended from the ceiling – which sounds cliched, or try hard, but just isn't in context. The accompanying visuals for each song are perfect. Some of the best, and most effective I've seen. They could have been distracting or insistent, but again, just aren't. From the vivid colour of a sunset reflected on gently rippling water, to what looks a forest fire, or a swirling blue haze for – what else, ‘Spanish Sahara’ – there is just nothing to fault here. No matter how you feel about the first part of Everything Not Saved…, no matter how eagerly you await the promised heavier sound of the second part, this is the best possible time to see Foals – a band well and truly in their prime. Don't miss them.

Foals played:
‘On The Luna’
‘Mountain At My Gates’
‘Snake Oil’
‘Olympic Airways’
‘My Number’
‘Black Gold’
‘Sunday’
‘Syrups’
‘Providence’
‘Spanish Sahara’
‘Red Socks Pugie’
‘Exits’
‘In Degrees’
‘White Onions’
‘Inhaler’

Encore:
‘What Went Down’
‘Two Steps, Twice’

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Photo: Lewis Evans