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Sam Fender returns to a heroes welcome at Newcastle University

Sam fucking Fender, what a guy. Last night he played his biggest hometown show to date to a whopping 1400 people, finishing off his UK tour. It’s been an undeniably huge year for Sam and his band but this will no doubt be the highlight as his only hometown headline show of the year surprisingly enough. 

Other local lads A Festival, A Parade open the show with a somber but rousing set. It’s a healthy dose of math rock with the sensibilities of The National, cautious lyrics paired with blaring riffs make their set undeniably incredible. Starting on ‘Millennial’, Sam Fender and co. walk out to a heroes welcome, their own wall of sound barely louder than the noise the crowd are making. 

Mid tour Sam’s guitarist Dean Thompson suffered a leg injury meaning he wasn’t able to complete the tour but that didn’t stop him from sitting side stage for the show tonight, in his finest ’96 Newcastle United top, much to the delight of the 30 something women beside me who insisted on screaming “Deano” at him between songs. 

‘Dead Boys’ is nothing short of euphoric, being written about male suicide in our local area, it’s cathartic to be able to sing it out loud in a room full of people who understand each other on the matter. Watching him perform it, it’s absolutely no surprise that ‘Dead Boys’ is the song that pushed Fender into the limelight. 

Singing the opening verse of ‘That Sound’ a capella, the room is silent, being able to hear the breaths between each line. It’s the first time in a long time I’ve seen an audience stunned to silence, it doesn’t last long when the thundering guitar riff comes in.

‘Greasy Spoon’ sees a different reaction, a lot of the crowd are singing along to this one but no one can take their eyes off Sam Fender as he belts out “I am a woman, I am your mother, I am your sister and I am your daughter” like he’s staring down the barrel of a gun. 

“This one’s about us, sing it with me” he says as he goes into ‘Leave Fast’. It’s a poignant moment in the show as he reflects on working class life in the UK, a bleak but realistic view of the North East. It feels all the more spine tingling at his first hometown show since the song was released. Dean makes an appearance to play out the extended outro with Sam. 

There’s a few unreleased songs in the set, some like ‘Use’ have been around for a while and there’s two new ones from the upcoming album, due 2019, that make their way into the encore, all of which are well received, one called ‘Saturday’ even has the crowd singing along by the final chorus.

At the request of a fan he throws in a Bruce Springsteen cover at the end. Asking if there’s anyone in the crowd still at John Spence, his old high school and goes on to say how he used to play Springsteen covers at buskers nights before he started the band. Playing ‘Dancing in the Dark’ 

Listen to Sam Fender right here.

Featured Image: Matt Snelling

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