SAM FENDER // THE GARAGE (ATTIC BAR), GLASGOW

BBC SOUND OF 2018 CANDIDATE SAM FENDER PLAYS INTIMATE HEADLINE SHOW IN GLASGOW

SAM FENDER PERFORMING AT THE GARAGE (ATTIC BAR), GLASGOW - 25.02.18

PICTURE: KENDALL WILSON PHOTOGRAPHY

★★★★★

Sam Fender may only be five singles into his recording career but he's already a veteran touring artist, having supported the likes of Bear's Den, Daughter, George Ezra and Ben Howard over the last few years. 2018 finally sees him heading out on his first ever headline tour in the UK and it should come as no surprise to anyone that he's really good live. Really good!

Support for this tour comes in the form of fellow northern singer songwriter Brooke Bentham. Her songs are gritty, brutally direct and affecting: her voice gentle with an underlying richness that lends itself to soaring expression. The dynamic playing and intimate lyrics keep at least those in front of the stage captivated, while a majority of rowdy punters at the back have no idea what beauty they're missing.

The crowd has almost doubled in size by the time Sam Fender and his band pick up their instruments and the energy shift in the room is tangible. The set kicks off with fast-paced tongue-in-cheek anthem 'Millennial' but without much space to jump around band and audience are forced to face off against each other and embrace the intensity of the moment.

Like Bentham, Fender's lyrics speak straight to the issue; whether it be social inequality, political frustration, mindless celebrity culture or some dark hometown heartbreak, the emotion is raw without hyperbole or embellishment. "Let's learn to talk without the fear of being heard" he calls on 'Start Again', a rousing cry for youth empowerment. Similarly straightforward, his music is exactly everything it needs to be, bold, balanced and especially infectious. There are hints of War On Drugs, Real Estate and even U2 in the guitar sounds but it's in Fender's warm, soulful voice that his true magic lies. A single microphone is all that's needed to get these songs across and Fender is an almost prodigious vocalist; power, control and maturity in delivery are skills he's already mastered at such a young age.

The set is tight with minimal chat, the occasional tuning struggle, and no hint of an expectant encore. Fender delivers a solid 11 songs in around 40 minutes. He introduces the final song of the night, 'Play God' (the single that launched his most successful professional year so far) with genuine incredulity and humility.

As well as being long listed for the BBC's Sound of 2018, Sam Fender has been popping up on "Ones To Watch" lists all over the music media in recent months, and from this performance it's not hard to see what all the fuss is about.

Sam Fender will make a appearance at this year's TRNSMT Festival in Glasgow on Friday 29th June alongside headliners ' Stereophonics ' who will open this year's two weekend across festival.

SAM FENDER'S UPCOMING TOUR DATES:

March 5th - BIRMINGHAM The Sunflower Lounge
March 6th - BRISTOL The Louisiana

March 14th - AUSTIN, TX - British Music Embassy (BBC RADIO 2 event)
May 11th - EXETER The Cavern
May 12th - TRURO - The Old Bakery

May 25th - NEWCASTLE - This Is Tomorrow Festival 2018
June 29th - GLASGOW - TRNSMT Festival at Glasgow Green
July 1st - LONDON - Community Festival 2018
July 14th - LATITUTE FESTIVAL 2018
July 27th - STANDON - Standon Calling Festival 2018
July 29th - Y NOT? FESTIVAL 2018

REVIEW AND PHOTOS BY: KENDALL WILSON PHOTOGRAPHY

Peter WisherTRNSMT festival