After a monumental few months where he achieved his second number one album in the UK and took home a BRIT award for the best alternative/rock act, Sam Fender has embarked on his ‘Seventeen Going Under’ tour.
It would be easy to say something about how he’s an overnight sensation, a guy who suddenly blew up out of nowhere, but that isn’t the case. Fender has been honing his craft since he was 14 yet it’s definite that 2021 has undoubtedly been his magnum opus.
With a dark, moody lit background behind him, the Geordie singer-songwriter took to the stage in Liverpool with confidence and his beloved down-to-earth charm; didn’t leave a stone unturned in terms of keeping the audience captivated, engaged, and constantly on their feet.
From the start of his blistering set, insatiable energy radiated through the crowd as ‘Will We Talk’ and ‘Getting Started’ set things off on a solid keel. The pits instantly open, drinks are being launched, and people are screaming at the top of their lungs. It’s the perfect recipe for an unforgettable gig and it had only just begun.
“This one is for the people that didn’t make it” Fender utters before launching into the subdued riff of ‘Dead Boys’ – one of his most devastatingly beautiful songs about the male suicide epidemic in the UK.
As he veers through his discography, it’s evident that Fender is still adjusting to arena-sized stages. Most of his songs have been honed in tiny bedrooms and performed in pubs or university halls where closeness is inevitable. He has never had to take into account such a large space but that doesn’t take anything away from his stupendous performance. The crowd doted on him, screams and cheers pierced through moments of silence all night and the pits only got bigger.
‘Howdon Aldi Death Queue’ and ‘Spice’ have to be the highlights of the night. The ferocious tracks show an ambulance of lighting and allow Fender to let loose as he occasionally thrashes away from the mic. The thundering drums fill the venue and the punk flair energises the building. “Let’s see what you’ve got Liverpool,” he shouts. “If anyone falls down, pick ‘em up!”
The last half hour sees showstoppers ‘Saturday’, ‘Seventeen Going Under’ and ‘Hypersonic Missiles’, all of which have played a pivotal role in Fender’s rise to fame. Their personal lyrics gradually unfold and tell sombre tales of his upbringing and struggles as well as the helplessness of being young in a highly political and corporate society yet the upbeat track creates a euphoric and liberating atmosphere.
For his first arena tour, a sold-out one at that, Fender made sure to bring everything he had. Sure, there are things he needs to work on, such as using his space, but that will come with time once the arena-awe wears off. Throughout the night, he took a few seconds to acknowledge his accomplishments, rightfully so, and never stopped wielding the roaring crowd like a live wire with a talent that defies his youth. He managed to capture the same level of intimacy he brought to his smaller shows two years ago to large crowds in the thousands last night. While his songs always sounded too big for those small venues, even jam-packed arenas don’t seem large enough for this humble Geordie rockstar and his devoted fans.