By Desh Kapur, Rock At Night Manchester
Venue: O2 Ritz Manchester, UK-May 2, 2019
Sam Fender is a 24-year-old singer-songwriter / guitarist from Newcastle, with his own brand of Anglo-American indie rock taking influences from his hero Bruce Springsteen, also shades of Simple Minds and bringing a stadium sound that reminded me a little of Muse.
He really has been making his mark on the UK music scene over the last few months. Plenty of national airplay, a BRIT, a sold-out UK tour, and a highly anticipated debut album three months away. Everyone at the O2 Ritz in Manchester and myself are eager to see what all the hype is about.
Long before the young Geordie takes to the stage, the O2 Ritz is already packed to the rafters with all age groups seeming to be represented; a very good sign indeed.
Then on to the stage walks the man himself, with a grin so wide I think you could see it right across Manchester, and launches in to a set of hometown storytelling: First track off the rank is “Millennial “, followed by “Will We Talk In The Morning” and “All Is On My Side”, and this point I was amazed at the amount of people singing along, which I know happens at gigs, but this was very unusual for such a new artist who hasn’t even released his debut album yet. “Borders” is followed by “The Haunting” and the poignant “Dead Boys”; a track about young male suicide in the North East. It is clear that this is a subject matter that is very important to him.
“Start Again”, “Greasy Spoon” and “Spice” follow, Then it’s the new single “Hypersonic Missiles“ and the noise level goes from 7 to 11, leading to the man himself declaring “Who Said Guitar Music Is dead” and on tonight’s showing, who could argue. The crowd sang the entire first verse. Next up were my two favourite songs of the night, the brilliant “Play God” and “Leave Fast” a song about growing up in North Shields, which he played solo and also contains the awesome lyric “An old man told me to leave fast or stay forever”.
At this point, Sam declared, “Encores are stupid. I’m not going to do the whole thing of walking back off and coming back on. I’m going to do the encore right now. “And finishes up with “Poundshop Kardashians”, “White Privilege”, “That Sound” and a foot stomping version of “Morning Glory” which brings the house down.
So, as the night ended, the atmosphere throughout the whole evening having been electric, everyone left smiling and content in the knowledge that they have a new hero. His first night of the tour and his performance had been effortless and without fault.
He is really a special talent.