Gig review: Foals, SSE Hydro, Glasgow

Foals have plenty of ambition, but not quite enough big songs. Picture: Getty Images

Foals have plenty of ambition, but not quite enough big songs. Picture: Getty Images

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THE major summer music festivals have started to announce their predictable bills, posing the usual conundrum of where the next generation of headline acts is to be found.

Foals | Rating: *** | SSE Hydro, Glasgow

Foals might get there by default. These critical darlings (though not to this critic though, it must be said) have made the premature jump to the Hydro without a significant crossover hit to their name, but you cannot fault their ambition nor the fuzzed-up indie metal sound and throat-shredding vocals which ripped through the arena for openers.

This bone-shaking overture proved to be a false dawn, however, as the band fell back on a far more meagre indie-funk diet of precisely picked guitars to needle rather than hook in the listener, settling into a light, lithe groove for much of the set.

Like many of their aspiring arty peers, this Oxford quintet major on atmospheres, textures and dynamics (to some degree) rather than songs, preferring the gentle pursuit of a particular guitar line or keyboard refrain to a robust singalong or air-punching anthem – and yet there were pints thrust aloft by the saluting crowd, so they must have roused some spirits.

They were at their most potent when exercising their mean streak. A Knife in the Ocean was powered by a hefty bassline, a sea of distorted guitars with a dash of Dave Gilmour influence and some righteous hollering; the choppy What Went Down was a taut case of rock rage, distilling elements of both The Stooges and Underworld, and closer Two Steps, Twice – more chant than song – was delivered with committed brutality.

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