A sold-out show on the Skinty Fia tour didn’t disappoint.
I rocked up to the O2 Academy with complete trepidation. Not because I was worried about a mix-up leaving me off the guestlist, or because I didn’t want to be let down again Fontaines DC: the last time I wrote a gig review it was branded “lazy journalism at its best” by George. He posited – “why do people like this get to write reviews?” – a truly great question, and one which I asked myself as I went up to collect my complimentary ticket in the stalls to a sold-out show, while my pals wandered up to the rafters.
The night began with a £6.50 pint and a support band that had nothing to write home about, but the next two hours didn’t disappoint. Opening with Big established an electric set, with a blend of songs from their three albums, the only notable omission being Liberty Belle. As one of those gigers that looks up the setlist in advance, I appreciated the slight changes the band make from night to night to keep the crowd guessing.
The energy in the crowd was immense but also mature. I’ve felt recently that many moshpits have been a bit forced – perhaps it’s just age catching up with me – but during the set the crowd response felt genuinely spontaneous. There is no greater feeling than being hoisted up out of the pit as you fall to your arse, with the crowd potentially taking the line “brits out spits out” a bit too literally as I clambered for dear life.
Of the two previous times I have seen Fontaines this was frontman Grain’s most astute performance. He carved out his own stage presence, whereas previously his on-stage persona resembled a strange hybrid of Liam Gallagher meets Morrissey-come-QMU regular. But this wasn’t the only improvement on the Skinty Fia tour, overall the mixing was far better: the vocals weren’t getting drowned out by the white noise of instrumentation, creating a tight performance all in all. The songs of their third studio album, the one they are touring, also provided the best live sound, even if at times remnants of the muffled vocal overlaying the post-punk backing crept into songs from the first album.
The night climaxed with Love you, a rambunctious ending building slowly to an almost orchestral crescendo.
How did I get on George?