Sam Fender Electrifies Chapel, 02.11.18

Chapel’s backdrop of graffiti and neon signs fits the atmosphere of Sam Fender’s alt-rock perfectly. On the precipice of his debut EP, the North Shields born musician took to the sold-out venue for a show eagerly-anticipated by all.

Support band A Festival, A Parade kicked the night off with a set brimming with potential, showcasing an impressive ability to be eerie and melancholic yet simultaneously raucous and grating. A standout from the set was undoubtedly ‘The Vineyard’, taken from their recently released EP, Stay Away from Me – pairing thrashing, jarring guitar with plaintive vocals, this track in particular epitomises the band’s distinctive sound.

Fender soon took to the stage, soundtracked by the Stranger Things theme tune, in what was a particularly striking entrance. Fender is a vision of cool on stage; effortlessly charismatic, he flies through a set peppered with old and new songs. When faced with technical difficulties part way through ‘Start Again’, he is seemingly unfazed, taking the opportunity to launch into an impromptu a capella cover of Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Thunder Road’, which illuminates the raw talent Fender possesses. Such an intimate venue allowed Fender to showcase his incredible vocals through a combination of acoustic numbers on his own, as well as more energetic moments with his band behind him. His undiluted excellence was the one consistency of the set.

The political commentary in Fender’s music is especially poignant in a live setting; ‘Play God’, which he confesses to having written in his manager’s garden shed, is anthemic and angry in its instruction to “get your hands off the Middle East.” With electrifying new songs like ‘Hypersonic Missiles’ came the promise of an album potentially sometime next year. And if the taster Fender provided is anything to go by, it is set to be phenomenal, firmly planting the musician as one to keep an eye on as he moves forward.

Neive McCarthy