This Irish quintet are no sell-outs, but they are going to be selling out wherever they go.
Irish quintet Fontaines D.C. didn’t really say much in between their setlist on Monday night, but it wasn’t for want of a stage presence. After being built up by the two opening acts, their mesmerising and immaculate set knocked us right off our feet.
We started off with local band Happy 2000 and their youthful and rowdy alternative rock. They all did their bit to tease the crowd in toward the stage, with Paddy McCaddy on vocals putting his money where his mouth was and heading into the mosh pit a couple of times. One of their songs was about the clown Paddy used to think haunted Marlands Shopping Centre here in Southampton; it really wouldn’t surprise me, mate.
Next came East Londoners Sisteray and their intelligent punk rock. They started with a few songs from their album inspired by Andy Warhol’s prophetic words “everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes”, and the set just got better from there. The as yet unrecorded ‘Gentrification’ was one of their strongest.
A sold-out Joiners is a beautiful sight, regardless of how squishy it is. By the time Fontaines D.C. made for the stage, everyone was packed in nice and tight. They played a mixture of their hugely successful singles and songs that will hopefully feature on the new album that they started work on back in October of 2018.
The set was seamless. Their inextricable Irish brew of classic rock and roll and post punk feels so organic that you won’t want to go back to hearing the genres played separately. Homemade it may be, but their intelligently crafted music and all its guitar filled goodness pulls from influences far and wide, from The Stooges and Buddy Holly to The Pogues and The La’s. The band are somewhere between old souls playing new music and a new generation reviving old genres, with lead singer Grian Chatten reciting their songs through spitting poetry in his authoritative and infectious brogue.
For all the songs that are bracing and agitated, from ‘Too Real’ to ‘Big’, there’s some that are sad and beautiful too. New songs ‘TV Screens’ and ‘Roy’s Tune’ soared above the rest, and the lyrics of the latter, “I like the way they treat me/ But I hate the way they use her”, have been going round my head since the gig. It jarred with the moshing crowds who were still buzzing from the songs before it and for the ones that were still to come. It ended abruptly with a “hey love, are you hanging on?/ Are you hanging on?”.
Their songs build and build with relentless lyrics and riffs and then die away, or else cut off, to be left open to interpretation. With the songs that don’t embody the post punk mentality outright – beneath those backup vocal “aahs” straight out of 60s rock and roll found in ‘Chequeless Reckless’ and ‘Liberty Belle’ – there’s still depth and authenticity to be found that form the foundation of the band.
At the end of the set, some old geezer next to me started raving about the performance to a friend and even admitted that he was left trembling, and I can’t say I blame him. One of the best sets I have had the pleasure of witnessing, their debut album and their return to the UK can’t come quick enough.
Fontaines D.C. stop off in the UK during their Europe and US tour in April. Get your tickets here.