come ride the olympic airways!
Foals @ Hordern Pavilion, Sydney NSW Australia 17/07/2019 written by Brendan Lewis.
Are you ready to play? Come ride the Olympic Airways through the Spanish Sahara, as you evade the deadly torrents of snake oil spouting up to swallow you, then choose one of the correct exits to then race around the moonlight, on the Luna Highway to glory! Just like Bowser in Super Mario or Team Rocket in Pokemon, I will be the big-bad-boss of this game! Let us see if English Indie-rock band Foals, can best me as they take on fans in Sydney tonight!
Will you rise and help the band defeat me? Or will you join me, turn to the dark side and fulfill your destiny? But beware, for everything not saved will be lost...
Level one; On the Luna Highway.
Here we find the landscape (stage) ablaze in a warm red glow, like a rising sun with a backdrop of tropical palm trees, as the band walk out onto the playing field. As the first song starts, ‘On The Lunar’, the catchy synthesiser hook, is not as prominent in the sound mix as I would expect and like, unfortunately, but the bands immediate stage presence triumphs, and rounds up the fallen points lost by the lack of synthesiser nicely! The immediate stage presence, comes in the form of lead singer Yannis, instigating a clap along to the thumping beat, drawing the bands followers attention nice and early... Well played my young apprentice, well played!
Level two; The Snake Oil Mountain.
Although the synthesiser hook at the start of ‘On The Luna’ first up, wasn’t as prominent as I would’ve hoped for, the sound mix otherwise in that song and in the next two, ‘Mountain At My Gates’ and ‘Snake Oil’, is without fault. All sounds are clear and defined packing powerful punches individually, whilst holding up and empowering Yannis’s vocals, protecting them from the threats of the menacing snake oil torrents, that is often the sound mixes inability to mix one’s vocals adequately, to stand nicely above the music, whilst not over dominating the other sounds. As for the authenticity and the points score for these two songs, 10 out of 10 I must admit! Both of these two hook-driven euphoric-rush songs, are to the exact! This is a clear sign that both songs have been well rehearsed by the band, and as a result, hit the mark perfectly in the crowd! In Pokémon terms as I am a 90s kid people, it’s a critical hit/super effective hit!
As all three songs that have been presented so far, have all been anthemic blasts of Super-Saiyan indie-rock energy, I was expecting the band to rock out quite significantly, and really bust a move to the point that even my limited vision could see a blurry mass of movement. But as far as my limited sight can detect, the band all seem to be still? However, player-two (my friend and notetaker, as my right hand lost a battle with a footpath) informs me, the band are in-fact all bopping and dancing complementary to each song. One crucial move from the lead singer in ‘Snake Oil’, and which one does not experience by simply listening/enjoying the music at home, is the seemingly authentic and perfectly fitting serious emotion, expressed as he performs the later stages of this song. Or maybe I’m simply being over analytical, and Yannis is just aware of the threats of the Snake Oil torrents that I mentioned earlier, because he would totally know I was going to go with this approach in the review right?
Level three; The Olympic Airways.
The band raise the feel good vibes a notch with my personal favourite ‘Olympic Airways’ which is strategically flowed straight into the well executed combo that is, ‘My Number’, ‘Black Gold’ and ’Sunday’ all flowed seamlessly from one to the next… now the real game begins!
The ultra effective hook melody of ‘Olympic Airways’, brings a rush of excitement out of the crowd in the form of singing the hook melody, as soon as the song takes off. As player two has written in the notes, the crowd sings louder in the first chorus... I think that was directed at me to be honest. Regardless, this song is my personal favourite, as the gliding sparkly melody is what gave me the idea for this approach in the review. The way the sparkling melody glides up and down, echoing and entrancing, reminds me of Super Mario Galaxy, with Mario spinning and gliding through space, and dodging bright lights of energy and asteroids... And no, I was not on drugs when I envisioned this! To send the feel-good vibes up even higher, the lead singer walks down the steps in front of the crowd to embrace our energy while he plays his guitar, after hyping us all up by walking around the stage, goading us to sing louder and dance as he is. The theme of this show being like a video game is quite fitting, as just like a video game, the first few levels are fun and good yes, but they are not exactly anything over extraordinary or challenging, just simply fun. And the next few songs initiated by ‘My Number’, is where the game starts to really get you hooked and becomes rather challenging. ‘Olympic Airways’ previously brought a spark of energy out within the crowd for the rest of the show, the crowds go from being lax, calm and simply grooving and bopping earlier in the set, to being a little overbearing... I mean come on guys, although having a random teenage girl jumping all over your back may sound nice to some, it gives me the impression of when you are getting really frustrated with a game, as you are on a level that is taking you forever to overcome, and you just want to throw the controller at the screen, but then you just have to remind yourself that it’s not worth it... This is exactly like that!
The band too, go from being calm, lax and lightly busting a move on stage earlier in the set, to seemingly feed off the energy in the crowd, like that Pokémon attack leech seed, and for the rest of the set, really give it there all, rocking out with each other! And surprisingly and thankfully, the music remains without fault, even when the lead singer stands on peoples shoulders in the crowd near the end of the set, while having everyone trying to place a hand on him, like those evil mushroom guys, swarming around Mario in every Mario video game. This makes the show truly memorable, remarkable and a quintessential experience, that you don’t get simply by listening to the music! This is a full visual aural and sensory experience! Yes, the crowds are quite annoying and frustrating, and having random people‘s elbows hit you in the head are rather unpleasant, but the way the band project authentic emotions and energy, while dazzling backdrops and lights that complement and dance around the music, makes up for it by far! When the band cap-off this truly memorable set with fan favourite ‘Inhaler’ (with the powerful and tantalising guitar riffs, that you can’t help but sing and are simply an ace, like when Mario kicks Bowers arse), then give us the bonus level that is a three song encore, finished with early-days fan favourite ‘Two Steps Twice’, I'm left with that spine tingling rush of excitement, that makes you throw your fist in the air when you finally finish that game you’ve been so engrossed in for so long, with a triumphant YES!!!
Just like super Mario and Pokémon, you can be sure that there’s going to be another action packed game lurking around the corner, filled with awesome new content for fans to get excited about, and consume in copious amounts! I am without a doubt, that there’s plenty more awesomeness from this band lurking around the corner too! After all, Bowser is never truly defeated forever…