LIVE REVIEW: FONTAINES DC

Fontaines DC

Hangar 34, Liverpool, 30 May 2022

Words and Photos by Gary Lambert

Fontaines DC are a curious (and wonderful) band.  They are probably not quite as big as you expect them to be (their monthly listeners on Spotify for example are less than Blossoms, who we love but have considerably less global acclaim when they release albums), and whilst seeing them in an 800 capacity room in Liverpool definitely feels like a ridiculously intimate treat, the concept of seeing them in an arena doesn’t quite fit.

They seem to not fit into any particular genre as Grian Chatten’s voice is too good for the Daddy’s got a friend in the industry, post-punk, voice of a generation as long as it’s out of tune scene – it would honestly show so many of those bands up; equally they’re too heavy, awkward, and experimental to fit in the indie scene; yet not heavy enough to feel like a rock band.

The audience too for the show is representative of a band which fit across so many demographics too.  At the front you have a frenzied pit with arms so frequently punching the air during the set that from the back of the room watching those fists appear in silhouette in front of the stage was meditative; from those energetic rock lovers, the bodies flow to the head nodding, 6Music listeners, giving their approval with a glint in their eye as they smile at their partners; and at the back of the room there was a good number of people who were probably shocked to see that bands play in venues smaller than arenas, happy to talk about anything other than music whilst taking selfies to send to The Lads or The Girls probably with the comment “great gig, but not a patch on Deacon Blue at the Echo”.

But none of this is said in a slight towards Fontaines DC because after this show I feel comfortable in saying that the band are amongst the very best in the world.  Everything about their performance felt beautiful.  There are writers of Christmas songs who would give their right arm to be able to compose melody like that which underpins Jackie Down The Line or I Love You from their album Skinty Fia, for which this HMV outstore show is supporting.  It’s gorgeous and makes you feel happy regardless of how the lyrics might echo darkness.  The basslines that the melodies dance along remind me of the perfection of In Utero, not so groovy to make you want to dance constantly whilst making it impossible to keep still. And Grian is perfection as a frontman; feline-like as he parades across the stage, eyes glued to his every move, the wall of hands in the moshpit copying him as he reaches to the sky, grabbing the electric power that seems to hover across the audience, and then blasting it back in the next lyric. The communal energy as everybody joined together for A Hero’s Death was magical.

The key to making every aspect of Fontaines DC‘s live sound so joyous is that you can pick out all of the different textures, flicks, whooshes, and waves because unlike so many frustrating bands they are not obsessed by volume as though cranking it up makes them some kind of real band. Intensity comes from how they create art on the stage rather than deafening the audience.  Hats off to their sound tech who made listening to them a pleasure.  It often does not happen that way because some people don’t realise Spinal Tap was a joke.

When the end came, there was no big hurrah and goodbye, the audience expected a wholly unneccesary planned encore and stood there confused and uncertain as the venue’s playlist kicked in. It was another beautiful moment in a night full of them.

Death to planned encores, long live Fontaines DC!

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    Popped Music has been going since Feb 2010.

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