Photo courtesy of Sam Fender on Instagram
Written by: Clodagh Mckechnie
Sam Fender has been making his mark on the UK music scene over the last few months. With a BRIT award, a sold-out UK tour (that includes some of the biggest shows he’s played to date), and a highly anticipated debut album three months away, everyone at the O2 Ritz in Manchester last night was eager to see what all the hype is about.
With most of the songs performed from Sam’s unreleased album, Hypersonic Missiles, you could tell the audience was full of hardcore fans, as nearly everyone was singing along to every track. One fan favourite, yet to be released, was “The Boarders,” a song that Sam explained was very dear to him. While on stage, Sam introduced us to Johnny, his “brother’s best mate” and the saxophone player that introduced a unique element into this new song. This was only the third song of the set, but people were enjoying themselves so much they started dancing and moshing to Sam’s outstanding guitar solo. The acoustic guitar played by lead guitarist Dean Thompson added another layer to this song, one that I cannot wait to listen to over and over again once the album is released.
The energetic nature of Sam and the band made for a high energy and enjoyable gig. Sam was confident on stage and was keen to ensure the band were given the attention they deserve. Sam was overwhelmed by the amount of people in the room, and he even compared this show to the shows he was playing not so long ago, “This is mad, six months ago we were playing in a pub to 100 people and now there are 1,500 of you. Thank you so much!”
Asking who had seen him before a big cheer came over the crowd, followed by Sam welcoming first timers to “the cult, the family,” Then the band launched into the 2017 single, “Start Again” a song that encouraged an eruption from the crowd. The catchy melody from the guitar and the rhythmic beat of the drums encouraged those stood at the back of the gig to start dancing, like the energetic front of house.
There was no introduction necessary for “Greasy Spoon”, with the audience launching into the lyrics as soon as it started. Sam looked very proud of himself at this moment in time, when the volume of the audience was louder than the band. There wasn’t a moment when Sam was on stage that he didn’t look overwhelmingly proud, thanking every person there because “it’s moments like this that I live out my childhood dream.”
After explaining that this was the best gig that he’s ever played, Sam waved off an encore. “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.” The first non-encore song was “Leave Fast” a song that encouraged everyone to hold onto those they came with and sing through tears. This song was amazing in showing off Sam’s vocals and he was awarded the approval of the audience with his high notes at the end. “Give it up for Deano everybody!” Sam cheered, referring to Dean ‘Deano’ Thompson, his lead guitarist, as the whole venue erupted into a chant for him. “We’ve been friends since we were 12 years old, because we egged a Co-op together,” Sam laughed, excusing the rest of the story for another time.”
The most surprising song of the evening came last. “Welcome Johnny back for this song again. This may go awfully fucking wrong because we learned it five minutes before we came on. It might go dreadful, but you’ll definitely know the words!” The first chords to “Morning Glory” by Oasis played and everyone sang with pride. Even parents who had been dragged to the gig were excited by this song. The cover was executed perfectly, despite the quick turnaround.
As the night came to a close, the atmosphere was electric throughout the whole gig and everyone was exhausted after giving their all for every song. One thing we can be certain about? A few people are missing their voices this morning.
Want to be a part of the epic Sam Fender live crowd? Last night kicked off his current UK tour. Today too, he announced an even bigger Winter 2019 tour:
Fri 22 Nov 2019 Manchester Academy
Sat 23 Nov 2019 Liverpool Guild of Students
Sat 30 Nov 2019 Brighton Dome
Sun 01 Dec 2019 Bournemouth O2 Academy
Thu 19 Dec 2019 Sheffield O2 Academy