Live Review: Fontaines DC

Sam Slater reviews Fontaines DCs long-awaited show at Newcastle City Hall

Sam Slater
29th October 2021
It has been seventeen long months since Irish post-punk up-and-comers Fontaines D.C. had been scheduled to play City Hall. A lay-off of that magnitude could potentially shake a band, particularly one that still feels to be in the early stages of their journey. If any air of unfamiliarity were to be expected, certainly no one told Grian Chatten as he sauntered onto stage in an Outkast t-shirt, pint of Guiness in hand.

The stalls of the historic City Hall hosted a diverse and lively crowd, many of whom had been waiting for this gig since before anyone knew what a lockdown was. The pandemic happened at perhaps the worst possible time for the band, not only pre-tour but pre-second album. When a first album is as well-received as 2019’s Dogrel, the follow-up can be a daunting prospect. Fontaines D.C. didn’t miss a beat, with A Hero’s Death earning them a Grammy nomination.

A gig so good it almost makes you forget about the fact the venue charges £6.50 for a pint

The staging is simple and effective; several large amps, rows of lights, and the band behind mic stands. The five of them burst into life immediately, breaking into the eponymous song from the second album. The audience responded immediately and did its best to match the almost exhausting pace of the band itself. Despite the lively tempo of the music, Chatten seems more comfortable just letting the music and lyrics do the talking, going from one song to the next and rarely taking more than a few seconds in-between. The mic stand takes a beating, as do the occasional crowd surfers, dropped before they could reach the sanctity of the stewards by the barrier.

The atmosphere reaches its peak as the final part of the set starts, and arguably the bands most famous song, 'Boys in the Better Land'. Around this point beer cups, shoes, a tambourine, even people go flying and the gig is over almost as quickly as it started. The crowd catches its breath before the slower, more laid-back encore. Fontaines D.C. are a band truly experienced live; a gig so good it almost makes you forget about the fact the venue charges £6.50 for a pint. A pleasant reminder that life is, indeed, not always empty.

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