Sam Fender: getting started in Leeds

Sam Fender in Leeds
Sam Fender in Leeds
Photo by Graham Clark

Going into HMV in Newcastle local Lad, Sam Fender’s new album, Seventeen Going Under stands proudly on the stands as one of the staff’s choices of what to listen to. 

A small hand written note placed on the front of the vinyl edition of the album proudly says:

“I saw Sam performing few years ago at a small gig and I always knew he would make it.”

North Shields singer, Sam Fender is often compared to Bruce Springsteen. I would say there is far more Razorlight and The Killers in his music, though when Springsteen’s Born To Run plays over the PA at the interval perhaps this influence could be true. 

Fender is proud of his roots, as he walks on stage at the Leeds Arena for the sold out gig, giant Newcastle United flags are waved from the side of the stage – even his saxophone player wears a Newcastle United football Shirt and at the merchandise stall the logo on the Fender T shirts have the Newcastle Brown Ale logo. 

His fans have waited over 18 months to see the show. The concert should have taken place in what was the first week of lockdown. Fender looks on in awe as the fans literally take over the singing as he performs Getting Started

“Are they any Geordies in the audience tonight?” he asks and then looks surprised by the huge cheer he receives. 

His songs cover many bases – Dead Boys deals with the issue of male suicide though the mood picks up on The Borders a track which he says is his favourite one off the first album. 

The moshpit is in full force on Spice and Howdon Aldi Death Queue. His young and energetic band  play as if it is the last show they will perform and match Fender’s enthusiasm perfectly. 

Staying close to his roots images of what looks like Billingham Industrial Plant is shown on the video screens as he performs Get You Down

Dedicating Spit of You to his dad who was in the audience the track is accompanied with photos on the screens behind him of family members as they grow up, including a trip to Bamburgh castle. On this personal touch it felt like he was opening up his family photo album to you. 

“This is dedicated to anyone who is seventeen” he says by way of an introduction to Seventeen Going Under as all the praise that he has received so far becomes validated in the space of a rousing three minute version of the track. 

As Fender encores solo with a version of Bruce Springsteen’s Dancing In The Dark, the slowed down version seems stark and delicate as opposed to what Fender normally sings. David Le’aupepe from the support act, Gang of Youths, joins Fender on stage for another Springsteen cover, I’m On Fire

As the confetti cannons shower the audience during Hypersonic Missiles he promises to return next year. The chances of him playing his beloved St James’ Park next summer now seem closer than ever. 

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