Review and photography by Jonathan Taylor
The O2 Academy in Birmingham is somewhat predictably at full capacity. A crowd spanning the generations are out in their numbers, ready for a night of live music. As the house lights dim the venue erupts as members of Sam fender’s band appear individually in what is a ceremonial return to what they do best, but the decibels increase significantly as the man himself takes to the stage.
The set opens with ‘Will We Talk’ which sees the joyous crowd, with arms aloft singing every word back to the stage. The stunning ‘Dead Boys’, whose lyrics tackle the devastating impact of male suicide, truly evocative in emotion and sentiment follows.
The evening continues with ‘All Is on My Side’, the delightful ‘Borders’, ‘Spice’ and the beautifully chaotic ‘Howdon Aldi death Queue’.
New tracks ‘Get You Down’ and ‘Seven Going Under’ get a huge response and sound truly at home in an established set list of cemented fan favourites. The wonderfully melodic soundscape of ‘Play God’ follows and is without question one of the highlights of the evening.
For the encore, Sam Fender returns to the stage and performs a stripped back version of ‘Dancing in The Dark’ by his musical luminary Bruce Springsteen. The evening concludes with ‘Saturday’ and the epic ‘Hypersonic Missiles’ during which the crowd are whipped into a joyous bouncing frenzy for one last time.
Sam Fender is clearly on top of his game and had the crowd in his firm grasp for the duration of the evening. The autobiographical content of his lyrics detailing environment and circumstance is incredibly powerful. The combination of an artist been deprived of performing live, jubilant in his return and an audience starved of live music for the past 18 months, made for the faultless evening, full of hope and optimism for the future. An absolute delight of an evening and a triumphant a return to live music.