With Christmas now a distant memory, the North East braced itself for the first gig of the year at the O2 Academy Newcastle.
With a capacity crowd in attendance, it’s fair to say that not everyone will have left the show with their Dry January vows intact or New Year’s Resolutions for that matter.
Whilst the critics cast their opinions on the breakout bands of 2020, we can’t go any further without reflecting on what an incredible year 2019 was for Fontaines DC. With a critically acclaimed album that was praised by the press as well as nominated for a Mercury Prize, the group rounded out the year with a sold-out UK tour which is tonight reprised on Tyneside.
This evening the Geordies are looking to blow off some steam from a week that saw many return to work. And following an impressive support set from fellow countrymen Melts, the room at fever pitch as the Fontaines intro tape rolls. It starts to feel like a Friday night in Temple Bar. The crowd a mix of youthful new music lovers and old school punk rockers.
Like the sounds of rolling thunder, the five-piece erupts onto the stage with ‘Hurricane Laughter’. With its hypnotic rhythms, the Newcastle crowd is immediately under the band’s spell. This, in turn, is followed in quick succession by both ‘Chequeless Reckless’ and ‘Sha Sha Sha’.
This evening’s setlist centres on debut album Dogrel, with all eleven tracks from the record featuring in Fontaines DC’s roughly hour-long set. The band slow things down momentarily with ‘The Lotts’ and the psychedelic garage rocker ‘Lucid Dream’.
The five-piece adopts a no messing approach towards tonight’s performance, with little room for pause between each song. Throughout the set frontman Grian Chatten very rarely addresses the audience, tonight the band lets their music do the talking. The atmospheric yet moody backlighting and frantic strobes perfectly add to the overall mood of the occasion.
The Geordie faithful lose themselves to the sounds of ‘TV Screens’, which proves to be a real favourite in tonight’s thirteen song setlist. The bass-heavy groove of this track in particular has a nostalgic sound that is reminiscent in places to Joy Division.
From mid-set it’s back to back crowd-pleasers including the rhythm-heavy ‘Hero’s Death’, the infectious and somewhat trippy ‘Roy’s Tune’ along with ‘Too Real’. There is a rawness to the latter that you don’t often hear these days. The feedback inducing guitar riffs on this track, in particular, are very effective.
Latest single ‘Liberty Belle’ with its short sharp drum groove and catchy hooks has the fans hanging on every word of the chorus.
This evening the Irish outfit plays straight through their hour-long set, without an encore. And as they head into the final strides of their performance they unleash the anthemic ‘Boys In the Better Land’. Frontman Chatten is confidently poised behind his mic stand with much swagger whilst frantically beating on his trusty tambourine.
Patriotic emerald lighting fills the stage as the DC’s pay homage to their homeland with the beautiful Celtic tinged ballad ‘Dublin City Sky’.
Fontaines DC has all the characteristics of a band destined for the top. They’ve got the attitude, the stage presence, the songs and the following – they are the complete package. The final track of the night seems like a mission statement or a mantra for the group as all in attendance would certainly agree that these Irish post-punks are going to be ‘Big’.