To say that Sam Fender has had a remarkable rise is really quite the understatement. Even before the singer reaches his two sold-out shows at the capital’s Wembley Arena on his current UK run, he’s already hit a fresh landmark or two on the way; on one hand, his gig at Glasgow’s Hydro gets named as the biggest indoor show the city’s seen; on the other, he’s officially named as patron for the North East Homeless charity. And it’s in this remarkable balance that the North Shields singer’s strength lies tonight.
From the start of his blistering Friday night set, an insatiable energy sizzles through the crowd. Introduced with the rousing one-two of ‘Will We Talk?’ and ‘Getting Started’, it’s the kind of anthemic start to an arena show that anyone could hope for. From then, he veers easily through his discography, slowing things down with ‘Better of Me’ before his electrifying and giddily boisterous ‘Howdon Aldi Death Queue’ sparks some chaos in the crowd once more. But it’s within the set’s darker moments that his real power comes to light. For every joke cracked, or Toon Army chant sung back at him - he even has unlikely TikTok star Francis Bourgeois riding around the stage on a scooter the following evening, in a feat of truly meme-worthy moments - there are vivid pictures painted of life’s hardships.
From the devastating ‘Dead Boys’, or the humbling message of masculinity’s challenges within ‘Spit Of You’, via incendiary single ‘Seventeen Going Under’, he treads a fine line perfectly; somehow managing to be both intensely moving and rousing in the same breath. It’s little wonder, really, that he’s been compared to Springsteen for so long now, because on stage, in front of this many people, it really does all click into place. And much like The Boss proved before him, to go from working class hero to a world-beating star in the blink of an eye is no mean feat. Tonight, Sam Fender pulls it off just fine.
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