Sam Fender takes to the stage at Alexandra Palace for the second night in a row, for a crowd who have waited almost two years to dance with him.
It isn’t Fender’s personal brand of indie rock that first fills your ears as the lights go down, but ‘The Imperial March’; Chewbacca and a Stormtrooper emerge behind a wall of Newcastle United flags, followed by a beaming, and lightsaber-wielding, Fender. Without a word he then launches into ‘Will We Talk’, the crowd already singing and bouncing to the infectious chorus.
“We had a fucking amazing night last night, and I can’t tell you how amazing it was waking up knowing that we get to do it again,” Fender tells the crowd before ‘Getting Started’ – a song aptly named not only for its place in the setlist but because, ahead of his massive and almost sold-out 2022 tour, it’s clear that Fender’s star hasn’t yet finished rising.
The next section slows down, with ‘Dead Boys’ and ‘Mantra’ encapsulating the open-chested storytelling that he is so good at. Going into ‘All Is On My Side’, Fender jokes that everyone should cuddle the person they’re with – unless the rescheduling has forced them to come with an ex. Though perhaps even that is an opportunity to rekindle something, he suggests with a grin.
The pace then ramps back up with ‘The Borders’, Fender’s favourite track off his debut, and the rowdy pairing of ‘Spice’ and ‘Howdon Aldi Death Queue’. “We had a couple of mosh pits last night,” Fender says. “If you wanna do that, you’re more than welcome to do it.” Courteously, the crowd accepts their invitation.
Tonight’s show has been a long time coming, which explains why the energy refuses to drop. Planned for March 2020, the tour was one of the first affected by lockdown, though like the rest of us Fender had assumed that it would all be over within a month. “It’s like bird flu or something,” he remembers saying, as the crowd laughs. “Fuck me – wasn’t bird flu.”
One silver lining to the show’s delay, though, is the addition of Fender’s sophomore album, released last month. The titular ‘Seventeen Going Under’ – a song that grapples with his own adolescence – proves that Fender and his hooks are made for crowds on this scale. His explosive rise since 2017 doesn’t seem to have changed the singer, though; everything about him is charming, from the school boy grin and onstage craic to his encore-opening love letter to Bruce Springsteen.
The set is brought home by ‘Saturday’ – another opportunity for the crowd to show off their lung capacity – and ‘Hypersonic Missiles’ – the cathartic, apocalyptic anthem that defined Fender’s first album. As the confetti rains down on the final chorus, it’s proven beyond doubt that this tour was worth the wait.
Sam Fender’s UK Tour continues this week with shows in Leeds and Cardiff. Fender will return to the road next March for a full UK tour. For dates and tickets head over here.