It’s the end of 2021’s grand return to the summer festival season, and an ever-growing celebration of both North East and national talent seems as good a send-off as any; à la This Is Tomorrow.
Although the bill is jam-packed with hotly tipped talent, there is one name that stands out clear as day: Sam Fender. Providing a true homecoming show after a month of travelling and countless sets of stage dominance, all eyes are on the indie star to see whether he can keep up the energy. Fortunately, far from being knackered down to his last legs, a Geordie crowd breathes an abundance of like into a top-tier performance.
A brass section marches on to pave way for the full band with their introductory rendition of the bold ‘Local Hero’ theme (very fitting, of course), proving that both Sam and his loyal audience are not bound by the realms of pure indie alone. However, the staple guitar lines soon cut in for reliable energy-inducer ‘Will We Talk?’.
While he has now penned too many fan-favourites to condense into one set, each and every pick is bound to please; from the chilled swagger of ‘All Is on My Side’ to the moshpits of ‘Spice’ and fresh b-side ‘Howdon Aldi Death Queue’ – another regional reference which the hordes of teenagers from Sam’s NE29 postcode lap up with joy – and all the way through to instant classics such as ‘Play God’ and ‘Dead Boys’; for the latter of these, Fender brings out alternative artist Rachel Chinouriri, who played the same stage just a few hours prior, to assist on vocal duties.
Perhaps the most exciting moments of the 90-minute thrill ride come in the form of teases towards the imminent second album, ‘Seventeen Going Under’; while the title track’s lyrics are already sung back word for word, ‘Get You Down’ provides a deeper insight into the expansive soundscapes of the phenomenal new LP.
Although ‘Aye’ doesn’t make an appearance today, Fender actually reveals – after an end-of-show fake out – a track he says may be in the running for the third album. Named ‘The Wild Great Ocean’ this vulnerable, soft ballad requires only the frontman and Johnny ‘Bluehat’ Davis’ gentle tones to capture the attention of a sellout crowd.
Following this gentle break and the now-standard cover rendition of Springsteen classic ‘Dancing in the Dark’, ‘Saturday’ has the hordes wailing before the explosive ending of none other than ‘Hypersonic Missiles’ itself – was there really any other way this festival could end?
A cathartic display of everything the region can offer, Newcastle’s biggest festival provides excitement for the masses and proves that this headliner is bound to top bigger stages soon – Sam Fender & band are the future. They are tomorrow, indeed.
Sam Fender’s sophomore album, Seventeen Going Under, is set for release October 8th, and is available to pre-order now. For more Sam Fender UK tour dates, head over here.