Foals play The Great Escape

foals playing the great escape
foals playing the great escape Image credit:

What were you up to at the age of nineteen? Far be it for us to stereotype but were enjoying the delights of drinking, skinning up and fitting in the university lecture whenever you had the chance?

We guess almost all of you didn’t start up your own independent record label after a meeting with Bloc Party’s Kele Okereke but that is exactly how Toby L spent the final months of his teenage years.

Today Toby’s business - co-founded in 2004 with Tim Dellow, with business partner Lilas Bourboulon joining soon after, plus a new generation of music execs including the likes of Mike Harounoff and Grace Manning - is celebrating its fifteenth year with a one-off show at The Great Escape festival. With a roster which includes the likes of Let’s Eat Grandma, Two Door Cinema Club, Flume, SOPHIE and Songhoy Blues the guys were spoilt for choice for their headline act, but there’s one particular act who could sell out this show at Concorde 2 within minutes.

Comprised of lead vocalist/ guitarist Yannis Phillppakis, drummer Jack Bevan, keyboardist Edwin Congreave and rhythm guitarist Jimmy Smith Foals have been in action since 2005 when the band formed in Oxford.

In the early days Bevan and Phillppakis were in a band titled The Edmund Fitzgerald (with Lina Simon) across town another act going by the name Face Meets Grill saw Smith and his buddy Walter Gervers play small venues and bagging a slot at Truck Festival.

When both bands split in 2004…Well, let’s just say Simon and Gervers are probably kicking themselves now for not joining the mates when they started recording new music!

Fourteen years in and Foals have recently released their fifth album, Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 1 (Part 2 follows in September) and tonight’s sweaty gig gallops into life with a track off that very record, On The Luna.

“It’s gonna be a spicy one tonight” promises Yannis wearing a flowerily shirt, which is quite apt seeing as the venue is right opposite the beach.

It isn’t long until we are taken back to the early days with a first class ticket on Olympic Airlines and one of their most successful numbers to date, My Number which is dialled in with a clap-a-long triggered by Phillppakis.

Another nugget during their ninety minute set is Black Gold, taking from their second album Total Life Forever. Despite being nine years old lyrics such as ‘The future is not what it used to be, used to be’ are probably more relevant today as they were then.

Back to the present and one of the standout moments comes from Providence, played with five additional false endings which sees Yannis cooling off the crowd by throwing some refreshing water over the front rows, but just after the refreshment trickles down necks Concorde 2 melts into a heatwave as Philppakis decides to crowdsurf playing his guitar for Red Socks Pugie – just a mere stones-throw away from this very journalist who is risking life and limb for your reading pleasure!

As Yannis is directed back to the stage - and we breathe a sigh of relief – the crowd start singing I Love Your Smile by Shanice, if we are totally honest we are stumped why, but if any of you guys can shed some light on this curveball please let us know!

For the real fans who can make the connection between their favourite band and a nineties R&B classic they were probably out in force earlier this year when Foals decided to hide the lyric sheet to Exits at the exits of underground stations around the world. The trainspotting has certainly paid off as the track is sung by everybody crammed in the venue tonight.

Another new one, In Degrees, references the threat of climate change and humanity on social media. Quite ironic if you think about it as suffocating bodies in the building have just checked in on Facebook telling their friends they are missing out on one of the gigs of the year!

It isn’t just the fans feeling the heat. Yannis is “fucking sweating” but it doesn’t stop the pro from finishing the night with a trio of classics… Inhaler, What Went Down and Two Steps, Twice.

Tonight was a very special gig and for the hordes of Foals fans who risked their lives dodging trains to find song titles and learnt Shanice lyrics off by heart there’s more chances to see the lads throughout the summer. One of their numerous festival slots will see them headline Truck festival, which of course Smith is no stranger to…Let’s just hope Simon and Gervers manage to secure their tickets via Ticketmaster!

Setlist - Foals – Concorde 2, Brighton – 10th May 2019

On the Luna

Mountain at My Gates

Snake Oil

Olympic Airways

My Number

Black Gold

Spanish Sahara



Red Socks Pugie


In Degrees

White Onions


What Went Down

Two Steps, Twice

Access at The Great Escape

Most venues around the festival aren’t up to standard although it’s unfair to judge because most are old small pubs/ clubs which don’t offer much room to cater for people with physical impairments and wheelchair users.

Disabled guests, which were quite sparse at TGE were given an accessible wristband which granted them priority access at the venues, although at some – such as The Radio X Stage at The Beach – security were not made aware of this and asked disabled people to join the long queue.

It’s a shame as it was evident the organisers did want to make the event accessible for as many people as they could, although due to the nature of the venues this wasn’t possible at some of the buildings.