April 14, 2019

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Live Review: ‘This is a band who know they are going places’ – Fontaines D.C. at Bristol Thekla

Fontaines D.C. performing at South By Southwest 2019 (Sam Huddleston / Live4ever)

There’s something special about watching a band live in the week they release their new album.

They’re normally brimming with energy and crackling with confidence, safe in the knowledge that their latest masterpiece is finally finished and about to be unleashed. That can be doubly applied to debut albums, when the finishing touches have been put on songs that have been worked over, pulled apart and reconstructed for years. Throw in the fact that a lifetime ambition has been achieved, and you can see why they are pleased.

So it is with Fontaines D.C. Their album Dogrel has been met with positive reviews, justifying their ‘ones to watch’ status. Promotion has been extensive and with this, the first night of the tour, expectations are high. They are ‘hot’. The crowd knows it; it’s body-to-body in the sold-out venue, one of those nights when you have to hold your drink to your chest because there’s nowhere else for it to go.

 

The boys from Dublin (ish) have the crowd in their hands as soon as they take to the stage. A sizeable chunk of the songs on display have already been released in some way shape or form, so there are singalongs a-plenty. Chequeless Reckless kicks things into gear, its jet plane guitars whipping the anticipation up some more before Big, which follows Supersonic and I Wanna Be Adored as a perfect mission statement: ‘my childhood was small but I’m gonna be big’. Few here would doubt that prediction.

They are a band in the truest sense; everyone has their role and obviously takes it very seriously. Frontman Grian Chatten has the slightly withdrawn confidence of Mark E Smith, his lyrics delivered in such a matter-of-fact way that you don’t doubt it’s anything but gospel. The rest of the band either look down at their instruments or, occasionally, at the whipped up crowd. They’ve honed this sound and these songs for years and aren’t going to mess it up now. The performance is minimalist but the music is powerful. The winding and claustrophobic Hurricane Laughter could go on forever and probably has done in rehearsals. It’s simple and intense, as Chatten repeats ‘there’s no connection available’ while all is refined chaos around him.

There’s a real wisdom and maturity beyond their years. Television Screens has levels of both anxiety and righteousness that should only come from experience. The Lotts sounds musically like The Cure and is a succinct epic, given more chops live by virtue of its insistence. More familiar tracks like Boys In The Better Land and Too Real are delivered with a bravado that must come from their roots; the whole album is loosely themed around Dublin and its gentrification, and it’s not hard to surmise that they’ve played most toilet venues and haven’t always been met with positivity. Indeed, the defiance it’s given birth to is their defining feature (‘as it stands, I’m about to make a lot of money’).

This is a band who know they are going places but will be unfazed by the stop-offs.

(Richard Bowes)

By Live4ever - Posted on 12 Apr 2019 at 8:27am


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