FOALS deliver another ‘sweaty good time’ at Hollywood Palladium while traversing the globe on their ‘Life Is Yours Tour’

FOALS - Yannis PhilippakisBy Josh Herwitt //

FOALS with Inner Wave, Gustaf //
Hollywood Palladium – Los Angeles
November 16th, 2022 //

What is it about FOALS that makes them one of the best rock ‘n’ roll bands to come out of the aughts? You know, that decade after the 90’s beginning more than 20 years ago?

A good starting point for most longtime listeners and fans of the British outfit would be Greece-born frontman Yannis Philippakis, whose gorgeous vocals and emotive guitar solos are often juxtaposed against his morose, yet impassioned lyrics.

And boy, let me tell you … when you’re feeling down, putting on one of FOALS’ masterpieces like 2013’s Holy Fire and 2015’s What Went Down can offer the emotional strength one might need to keep moving forward. You can hear it in Philippakis’ voice, and you can feel how much he’s pouring his heart and soul into the music. It’s really a beautiful thing to take in when it feels like the music industry has been largely condensed to 30-second soundbites with the rise of TikTok and proliferation of NFTs.

With founding member Edwin Congreave’s departure more than a year ago to pursue a postgraduate degree in economics at Cambridge University, the once-sextet has shrunk down to a trio consisting of Philippakis (lead vocals, lead guitar), Jack Bevan (drums, percussion) and Jimmy Smith (rhythm guitar, keyboards, synthesizer, backing vocals) in the studio, but you wouldn’t notice much of a difference from the sound of their seventh LP Life Is Yours that arrived in June and saw them collaborate with a number of producers, including John Hill, Dan Carey, A. K. Paul and Miles James, for the first time.

FOALS

If anything, the result is a shinier and catchier collection of songs in a pop sense, with its title track and lead single “Wake Me Up” setting the tone for the rest of the album. Life Is Yours was preceded by five singles, more than any other FOALS studio effort to date, and while others have had the same number of singles in the end, it wasn’t until after those records were released that they reached such a mark. In that regard, Life Is Yours is easily FOALS’ most accessible piece of work, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worthy of praise with Philippakis, Bevan and Smith sharing songwriting duties. It actually still fits in quite well with the rest of their burgeoning catalog, even if it isn’t as wide-ranging or commercially successful as 2019’s two-part Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost that would eventually top the UK Albums Chart.

FOALS, nonetheless, are still touring as a six-piece with three hired guns — Kit Monteith of Trophy Wife (percussion, sampler, backing vocals), Jack Freeman of Jagwar Ma (bass, synthesizer, backing vocals) and Joe Price (keyboards, synthesizer, backing vocals) — rounding out the lineup while always making sure to deliver a “sweaty good time” as Philippakis declared last Wednesday evening at the Hollywood Palladium during their first LA show since headlining the Shrine Expo Hall more than three years ago — and over six since the last time they set foot in the Art Deco-style theater (read our show review here).

The three-time Mercury Prize nominees were in good spirits as they often are when they come to town, particularly one where they spent time working on Life Is Yours and Smith also now resides. But on this night, FOALS weren’t just going to settle for the same setlist they uncorked less than 24 hours earlier in Oakland. Unlike our Bay Area counterparts, those of us in sunny SoCal would have the distinct pleasure of witnessing the tour debut of “Neptune” as the 10-minute epic came packaged in between What Went Down cuts “Snake Oil” and “Mountain at My Gates” heading into a brief encore break, marking only the fourth time it has been performed live so far. Of course I had hoped we would get to hear the full length’s namesake too with it being a personal favorite of mine, but considering the song hasn’t been in rotation for months dating back to July, it wasn’t all that surprising it wasn’t in the cards.

When Philippakis and company returned to the stage amid a roaring applause, it felt like they were just getting started. At the very least, FOALS know how to take things up a notch or two in the encore, and with Philippakis ripping through “Inhaler” while making his way through the crowd, it only reaffirmed their brand as an absolute force in live music. Some might claim the 60-plus stops on the “Life Is Yours Tour” extending into 2023 won’t stand up to some of their previous shows when we look back at them, but as our eardrums rattled for a final time to “Two Steps, Twice” off their 2008 debut Antidotes, it served as an immediate reminder that these past 15 years have truly been one hell of a ride for FOALS and those of us who have been here for them all.

Setlist:
Wake Me Up
The Runner
2001
(summer sky)
Olympic Airways
My Number
Black Gold
2am
In Degrees
Spanish Sahara
Red Socks Pugie
Providence
Snake Oil
Neptune (tour debut)
Mountain at My Gates

Encore:
Inhaler
Two Steps, Twice

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: