Live Review: Sam Fender – Manchester

Sam Fender

The Ritz, Manchester, 2nd May 2019

Words: Daniel Burton
Photos: Elena Katrina

Travelling across the M62, we inevitably met traffic problems and also with the precarious parking availability around the o2 Ritz, we eventually arrived 15 minutes into the support set of A Festival, A Parade. Despite this being 45 minutes before Sam was due to take to the stage, the venue was already packed to the brim, so we went up the stairs and took our vantage point on the balcony. Although we only caught the tail end of their set, it was enough for me to instantly fall in love with them. They bring a solid indie/rock sound that sometimes ventures into some rather heavier rock during some chorus’. This is also combined with a similar lyrical style as Sam Fender, a pairing which provides a well-balanced and faultless performance. If you add into that equation the same typical geordie charisma that Sam brings, there isn’t much that you could add to make them any better.


As the clock struck 9, it was Fender time, and as the lights went down, the phones went up in unison. Millennial was first up on the setlist and as soon as it kicked in, the tone was set for the night. The first new track of the night, taken from the new album, was Will We Talk In The Morning. It was evident that the vast majority had never heard the track before, but nevertheless, they clearly loved it and sang along once they caught the words. This was followed by All Is On My Side, which is another new track but didn’t make the album. However, we are rest assured that it WILL be on a deluxe version. This is by far my favourite song from the new ones I have seen him play so far. It is the absolute perfect soundtrack for a sunny weekend driving through the countryside with the windows down. How this has not made the album I do not know, but this just means that I can guarantee the album will be ace.

Dead Boys is a track that will forever give me goosebumps, and when the prelude is played with it live as well, it seems to take me to another place as if I’m high on the sound. For a track that has rather deep and meaningful lyrics about male suicide, he manages to put a positive spin on it and get people dancing around. Making something negative, such as suicide, sound positive could be misconceived by some people thinking it takes away from the true meaning of the situation but Sam portrays in such a way that he makes you listen to the lyrics and think about and ponder the words throughout every second. Having heard a previous interview with Sam, it is clear that this is an issue that is very close to him and the band, and through the lyrics in this song, it will inevitably help and encourage people to talk about it more. By using his talent of songwriting to highlight the issue and help people talk about it, there isn’t really much more he could do, and it is something that should be highly praised.


Greasy Spoon was started by a short solo piece which helped bring the crowd back to reality and singing the words. In this track, you can feel the real passion flowing and pouring out his heart in every word. It is so nice when you are able to see an act grow from playing 200 cap venues to 1500+ venues in a matter of months, and when they are still able to show the passion on stage it proves that they are still human and they haven’t become robots caught up in the bubble that is social media and the hype of modern day culture. Never change Sam!

“When people say guitar music is dead, what the fuck are they on about. Look at this!” When he said this, he took the words right out of my mouth. In the moment this was said, it reminded you that the world isn’t all bad. Everyone was able to be there enjoying their night and having fun, with the music making you forget about all the problems in the world (apart from Dead Boys). Whilst it does rely on the music fans to support the music back to where it should be, it wouldn’t be able to get there in the first place if it weren’t for the people actually producing the music, and it is acts like Sam Fender that are the forefront of this rebellion to bring this type of music back to the top of the mainstream.


When Hypersonic Missiles started, it was another reaffirmation that guitar music most certainly is not dead. The crowd sang the entire first verse, for which Sam didn’t really need to sing anything. For the rest of the song, arms were in the air throughout and the crowd ended up singing the entire song word for word. Next up, we had the introduction of “This song’s called FIFA 19” (AKA Play God) It is rather ironic that that is how some people may still see him, ‘just that guy with a song on Fifa’, when he is, in fact, one of the best up and coming talents. I’m not even sure if I can still class him as up and coming for the stage he is at in his career. He is playing venues like the o2 Ritz before his first album has even be released. That is something that most don’t do until at least after their first album, so it really is a great achievement.

Playing Leave Fast, it was like everyone had just become hypnotised as he held the whole room in the palm of his band. The extra ending that he plays with guitarist Dean is so special when they play live and is something that must have been included in the album version! Despite being the slowest song of the night it received the biggest cheer of the night.

Dean has almost become as famous as Sam himself, with chants of his name ringing out as he left the stage. “We first started throwing eggs at the coop”, just one of the stories told on the night, proving they have been best friends since day one and are very much like brothers from different mothers.


Since Poundshop Kardashian has been released, it has slowly become one of my favourite songs of all time, both for its sonic and lyrical makeup. As much as I love the full band record version, the live version is just something special. Playing solo, with just him, his voice and his guitar, every time I hear it, it hits me deep where nothing should be allowed to go. After he had finished his little solo part of the show, there was a small pause as he wondered where his band had got off to during their break. “Where’s me fucking band, ye don’t get paid to smoke ciggies. Just can’t get the staff these days”. These lads are clearly just the best of friends. It is a friendship that everyone should be envious of,  because that’s exactly how it should be!

Paying respects to Manchester, he dedicated his final song (so we thought) to the city. From just the opening drum pattern of That Sound, it tells you you’re going to enjoy it. Couple that with the opening riffs and then Sam’s rich and powerful voice, it’s a recipe that will never grow old. It is something that I cannot get out of my head, ‘I Need To Hear That Sound’ (24/7). It is very easy to see him follow in the steps of the likes of James Bay and George Ezra. He may have a different sound, but they all give that same feeling that when you go to the gig, you almost feel part of the Sam fender family for those few hours and that you will always leave feeling 100 times better than when you came in.

We had it on good authority that there was going to be something special after That Sound, and what a treat it was, a cover of Morning Glory. It was absolutely mental, but what did you expect. Stick some Mancunians in a room and play some Oasis and the will go mad. It was almost as if LG was up onstage, the sound was uncanny. He had defiantly been practicing his sunshineeeeeeee’s in his dressing room, but I think the geordie ‘Y I’s helped him a lot. This was his little ode to Manchester and treat to everyone in the crowd.


For his first night of tour, his performance seemed effortless but was absolutely spotless. It was a truly special night for everyone that was there and I think it was for him too.

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    Popped Music has been going since Feb 2010.

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