“I wake up every morning and say this is fucking crazy”, commented the North Shields artist Sam Fender, bringing his socially aware lyrics combined with his rock and roll guitar riffs to a packed out Thekla in the heart of Bristol. With just a year in the limelight, Fender’s music career has gained momentum at a RAPID rate. Feeling trapped in his home town, he turned to his guitar for a chance to escape, now he writes songs about ‘life on the fringes’ and raises questions about current social issues.
After Owain Davies (Ben Howard’s manager) asked for his number in the pub he played and worked at in his home town, his music career has exploded and he has found himself signing a record deal; touring the UK; featuring on Annie Mac’s ‘Hottest Record in the World’; listed on the ‘BBC Sound of 2018’ poll; supporting acts such as Catfish and the Bottlemen, Hozier, Jake Bugg and George Ezra.. *Breathe*.. wow.. Sam Fender really has been on a rollercoaster ride since the day Davies asked for his number!
Fender kicks off with Millennial a favourite for the crowd as they dance in the hall, followed by We Will Talk In The Morning. Fender moves into Start Again where, halfway through, the music stops, Sam laughs, announces his string has snapped and explains how eventful this tour has been so far, with his lead guitarist, Dean Thompson breaking his leg in a ‘Freak guitar accident’. The music begins again and Sam laughs off the blunder! He is joined on tour by Tom Ungerer (Bass) Drew Michael (Drums) and friend ‘George’ from back home playing replacement lead guitar.
A member of the crowd throws a packet of ‘Kinder’ chocolate at him and he goes into a childhood story about this and makes the crowd laugh. Sam keeps things real, drinking his tea on stage, offering his water to the sweaty girls on the front row. Despite his new found fame, Fender remains down to earth, whilst radiating a warm, happy personality.
The Thekla lights turn a sea of blue and black for Fender’s deeply personal record ‘Raising the question’ around male suicide ‘Dead Boys’ before jetting off into hits ‘Friday Fighting’ and ‘Play God’.
He finishes his 60 minute set by playing Leave fast and Use, he smiles at the crowd as they sing along to the lyrics and calls them “beautiful’, Fender leaves the crowd hungry for his new album and concludes with brand new track Hypersonic Missiles.
With a new album on the way, and an already mind blowing set, we can only look forward to what Sam Fender has to offer next.
Words and Pictures by Abbie Barton