Live Review: Foals + Formation - Kesselhaus, Berlin (08.09.15)

Foals returned to Berlin as part of their current European tour that took in a handful of shows to celebrate the release of What Went Down on Tuesday night, the penultimate gig on the Oxford band's calendar before heading off to South America. Crammed into Kesselhaus were local Berliners, international visitors like myself and people who'd come from elsewhere in Europe to see the boys perform what has definitely shaped up to be some of their heaviest material yet on the new album, not to mention cuts from their impressive catalogue.

Opening for Foals were Londoners Formation, a band I'd not heard of prior to the show, but am definitely eager to find out more about. Comparisons could be drawn between the poppier side of this band and early Foals material, though it was great to see them harness the attention of the audience early on in the evening and show them what they were about as an individual entity. Touted as one of the bands to be catching at Bestival, which is only around the corner, Formation demonstrated an enthusiastic and tight live show presence that laid down some great foundations for Foals to continue to build upon.

The stage was reset promptly and the temperatures inside the warehouse venue climbed steadily as anticipation grew. Arms were thrown up in the air as the band of the night made their way on to the stage, both Jimmy Smith and Yannis Philippakis taking up guitars as if they were weapons ready to be yielded. "Danke schön, Berlin!" the frontman cries, as the crowd reciprocated by screaming, cheering and beginning to sing along even to the new material from album number four, only a few weeks old.

The set list takes in a good selection of tracks from the Foals body of work, with What Went Down being put under the spotlight to a brilliant reception. I've only been able to listen to the album a few times since it came out but being in this crowd, you'd have thought it's been out for months, judging by the reception these songs were receiving. "Snake Oil", "Give It All" and "Mountain At My Gates" were particular highlights: in the delicacies within "Give It All" through until the rollicking nature of "What Went Down" (featured as part one of Foals' two-part encore), the band brought to life What Went Down's layers and musical textures brilliantly.

Philippakis noted that he was suffering from laryngitis a few songs into the set and it obviously was a hindrance by the end of the show, as he began rasping through "Late Night" and "A Knife in the Ocean". By the time "Inhaler" came round, he was still throwing every ounce of passion behind the song, but the crowd helped him carry that bombastic Holy Fire cut to its full fruition. True to form though, the end of the show would still see him scaling the upper balcony of the venue before jumping off onto the crowd below, carrying him back to the stage to rejoin the rest of the band to wrap on "Two Steps, Twice".

Having seen Foals perform a number of times now, I've not been in a crowd this turned up for the band. Circle pits were throwing girls back and forth violently with no care while couples made out right on the periphery. The band was as much a part of things as they could be without falling off the stage. Seeing as we Australians have a few months still left to go before Foals return for the Falls Festival tour, I can safely say the wait may be agonising for some, but it's going to be worth it. These boys are on another level with the new album and it's showing in these live performances.