Fontaines D.C.EVOL @ O2 Academy 20/11/19
There’s nobody that follows music, that has an awareness of current scenes, that doesn’t know about FONTAINES D.C. by now. Certainly, it seems that Liverpool does.
As you haul your weary body up the stairs of Liverpool Academy, among the throng of Wednesday night giggers, you pass the entrance to Academy Two – the room where they were originally booked to play. Tonight, that’s empty, and as you ascend the steepest bloody staircase on Merseyside and enter the heaving, sweaty confines of Academy One, the excitement is palpable. The bigger brother is packed to the rafters full of young and old, the converted and the curious as well as the hip. It seems Hotham Street is the only place to be tonight.
It’s been a rush for this Dublin five-piece over the last 12 months. Their debut album Dogrel was nominated for whateverthemercurymusicprizeiscallednow, while BBC Radio 6 Music named it their album of the year. Most of this tour has been upgraded and those upgrades have sold out, too. This is a moment that we are in here, especially when Fontaines’ Dublin scenester mates are also doing impeccably well, too. If you are reading this and DON’T go to see The Murder Capital in town on 25th February then shame on you, as they too reinvigorate the live guitar punk aesthetic. And Girl Band’s new album is immense, etc, etc.
They part stumble, part stroll onto the stage, ignoring the sweat that’s pouring down the walls. The beauty of our very own Academy is that it can still resemble a ‘tiny’ venue when the band dictates. This seems to be the way tonight, and the band respond by throwing themselves into the set at full tilt. There’s no banter, or hellos, or interaction, just a visceral dive into replicating the album live. Get in and get out with a minimum of fuss. Frontman Grian Chatten is proving to be the frontman that this generation deserves. An amalgamation of Curtis, E. Smith and Reznor he lurks at the front of the band, shaking his hands and twitching at all times. It isn’t nerves, he is just trying to fill his time before it’s his turn to fill yours.
Hurricane Laughter is the bass-driven opener and, as virtually every song on the album has an anthemic feel to it, is an indication of how the set will play out. The beauty of seeing a band at this point in their career is how the songs have been performed so many times they are relaxed, knowing mistakes are rare and performance is the key. “There’s no connection available,” screams Grian, arms flailing and silver pendant flying about his torso. Sha Sha Sha possesses a degree of funk about its build up with guitars and power chords. Television Screens is the midpoint and the most dramatic song, as Grian’s chopped vocals hint at melody as he’s actually singing to the hundreds of hands poking through the quiet white light that crawls from the stage. From this point on it’s bedlam.
“I love that violence that you get around here, that ready, steady violence…” Liberty Belle comes hurtling off the stage and hits the mosh pit with such a bang you feel the shakes at the back of the room. The younger element are going hyper now and it’s not the bev talking. So when Boys From The Better Land starts the entire room starts moving. Everyone here is at one with the future sound of Dublin, limbs and vocal chords splayed for all to see. It’s obvious they finish on album opener Big. The crescendo of confidence raising what’s left of the old abattoir’s roof.
This band are genuinely fantastic and deserve every plaudit chucked their way. We’ve had two amazing performances in town by them over the last 12 months and there’s nothing to say they won’t be back again soon, please.