Almost nine months on from their sell-out show at Brixton Academy, their biggest to date and last before the U.K. went into lockdown, Fontaines DC are back at the iconic South London venue - this time without a live audience. Tonight, neatly coiled cables tucked under monitors and the sound of buzzing amps go some way to replicating the feel of a live gig, however the performance doesn’t quite manage to overcome the virtual distance.
Sounding just as gloomy and reflective as on record, each member intently focuses on the task at hand and there’s little movement, save what’s necessary. Although the show is being live streamed via Melody VR with an abundance of camera angles to choose from, it doesn’t help alleviate the stillness which is exacerbated by 360° views of a deserted Brixton Academy.
Still, the melancholic ‘Oh Such a Spring’ proves a highlight, its sparse instrumentation and wistfulness working in the band’s favour, and ‘Hurricane Laughter’ sees the band really shine. Frontman Grian Chatten stalks around the stage, using the microphone stand for support as the lighting shimmers and flickers. It gives the illusion of a mass of people shrouded in darkness, and it’s the closest tonight gets to transcending its virtual barrier.
Playing to a cavernous venue devoid of an audience is no easy task, and the performance is introspective and restrained, the group’s gloomier tracks sounding especially incisive in the environment. Their first words of the night come just before their closing track: “we appreciate you not telling us to go fuck ourselves.”