Finlay Holden reviews Sam Fender’s second of four hometown shows at Newcastle’s 02 Academy on his sell-out UK tour, with support from local indie-rock talent The Pale White.
The Pale White swaggered on first with their rock look, attitude and music beginning with older song ‘Wisdom Tooth‘. Throughout their multiple EPs and series of singles, this local band have built up a successful catalogue of music that they have toured across the UK this year. The latest singles ‘Unnatural’, ‘Teach Me How To Swim’ and ‘Medicine’ translate amazingly to a live performance and frontman Adam Hope’s vocals sound just as clean here as they do on the records.
I really thought the three-piece killed it throughout their set and proved to a large crowd how good rock can be with just 3 instruments and vocals, with no unnecessary padding. Unfortunately, I do feel a lot of the crowd did not appreciate them (or even know who they were) – as they began their final song, ‘End Of Time’, I heard one attendee expressing frustration that they were still on stage. Hopefully, they will only grow from here and play more max capacity gigs where people don’t only show up for someone else.
Sam Fender eventually graced the stage to insane applause from all his Geordie fans and immediately jumped into his latest single ‘Will We Talk?’, to which the crowd was screaming every word – something that was repeated to just about every song in the set. He continues with some of his older singles that haven’t been rereleased since, and the fanbase is still singing every word until new track ‘All Is On My Side’ begins; this has only been played a handful of times live, but I’m sure next time the words will be echoing the building as it has just been released on streaming services the day after this gig.
Before playing another massive single, ‘The Borders’, Sam takes a moment to reflect that the previous song was written a long time ago and is where his music has evolved from, whereas this is where his music is evolving too – this is definitely a good sign as it is one of his most musically interesting songs, with some killer saxophone work by Johnny Blue Hat. Hopefully we will soon see more of the same, as more singles have been promised to tide fans over until the next record.
A mix of EP and album tracks make up the rest of the set. Highlights include Sam challenging the moshpit to beat the size of the previous night during ‘Spice’, giving control over to the crowd for the chorus of ‘Saturday’ and being completely outsung by his fans for the entirety of ‘Hypersonic Missiles’. After the latter two, the applause simply did not end, with the whole venue clapping and cheering for a good two minutes after the songs had ended.
It was quite incredible to hear every single word of these songs being belted out as it should be, as just a year ago in our very own Student Union venue they were being played to a silent crowd before it’s release. A full-band rendition of Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Dancing In The Dark’ closed off the set, clearly showing Sam’s influences.
Overall, this gig was everything you could expect or want and even more. Vocals were on top form despite cancelled gigs earlier the same week, and as he said himself, “Toon gigs are just something else”. It’s difficult to imagine where he can go from here, but with 2 more sell-out shows and even a sell-out arena show coming up soon, it’s safe to say the toon and Sam Fender will always be a special pairing.
Last modified: 12th December 2019