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Review: Sam Fender – 17/02/2020 - O2 Academy, Newcastle - Gigs North East

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Review: Sam Fender – 17/02/2020 – O2 Academy, Newcastle

25/02/2020

If an alien came to Earth and asked to describe Newcastle upon Tyne, you could describe Greggs, Ant and Dec, and the Geordies. Sam Fender has now asserted himself as one of those coveted Northern landmarks…

2019 was the biggest and best year for the young guitarist from North Shields, all topped off by what would have been a monumental four-date sell out residency at Newcastle’s O2 Academy at the end of the year. 

But that didn’t materialise, with the toll of a non-stop 12 months seeing Fender having to reschedule the second leg of his residency not once but twice. But with a fit bill of health, Fender was ready to wow audiences once again and the two post postponements certainly didn’t put the crowd off as the Academy was full to the rafters to see one of their own. 

Fender had the capacity crowd in the palm of his hand right from the infectious opening riff of ‘Will We Talk?’, before taking it all the way back to the beginning with ‘Millennial’ and ‘Greasy Spoon’ which still hold up well over 3 years on. 

The cheeky Geordie isn’t one for mincing his words when it comes to addressing his audience, taking his recent setbacks as a “silver lining” to allow him and his band of brothers to perform the new single ‘Hold Out’ which does well to describe a typical night out on the Toon. 

‘Spice’ took the intensity up to fever pitch, with the grunge-infused effort opening up mosh pits here, there and everywhere. Fender didn’t help his efforts to headline St James’ Park in the future by getting the passionate crowd riled up by Mike Ashley, but certainly made it up for it, closing the main set with the seminal ‘Play God’ and ‘Hypersonic Missiles’ which continues to get better with every performance.

The time came for the not so secret encore, a running joke in the bands live show. It was Fender who kicked it off tackling the powerful ‘Leave Fast’ and ‘White Privilege’ on his own and it was nothing short of spectacular. 

Fender had every ear in the room as he addressed the tragic passing of Caroline Flack over the weekend, bringing the place to the ground as he pleaded the message of ‘don’t buy The Sun’ to the masses and bringing out the band version of ‘Poundshop Kardashians’ which proved incredibly satisfying. 

The fans are what make Sam Fender shows so special, that was clear as the band geared up for the favourite ‘Saturday’, inviting fan Jess onto the stage to co-lead the vocals and she took her opportunity as she and Fender had the crowd chiming. 

It wouldn’t be a Sam Fender experience if it didn’t involve ‘The Boss’ in some capacity, closing out a truly unforgettable night with a cover of ‘Dancing in the Dark’ which didn’t disappoint and the perfect way to return to the stage. 

2020 is already shaping up to eclipse what has come before for Sam Fender, not only across the world but especially in his hometown. These final two academy shows will be the test to see if he’s ready for the heavy heights of the Utilita Arena and Exhibition Park, Sam Fender was born ready.

WORDS: Danial Kennedy

PHOTOS: ADAM TAYLOR

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