Sam Fender released his first official track only less than nine months ago but at the young age of 21 he is quite an experienced live performer.
After touring the country opening for several artists including George Ezra and Jake Bugg, Fender has now embarked on his first headline tour which opened with a sold out show in Manchester on February 23rd and that will culminate with a final show - in Utrecth in The Netherlands - at the end of April.
About a hundred people arrive early enough at London's Electrowerkz to enjoy a sweet opening set offered by Manchester based up and coming songwriter Dave C. Rupert. The atmosphere is rather mellow with Rupert singing along to some introspective lyrics accompanied by his acoustic guitar and surrounded by amber green lights. Heads are bopping but nobody appears too captured or convinced by the end of it.
As soon as he steps off stage, every head in the room runs off to the bar to recharge on booze and a smoke, impatiently waiting for the spectacular set that will be delivered by the headliner, Sam Fender, 30 minutes later.
Fender takes the stage unexpectedly, facing a room full of people of all ages who have braved the "beast from the east" blizzard to be at his biggest London show to date. It seems clear that a few record men are in the audience tonight.
Shortly after some encouraging cheering the crowd falls immediately to a stone cold silence before Fender's powerful vocals fill the room to a sharp "this song is the gospel!". The crowd's reticence is shattered as two electric guitar riffs open the dance. He starts off with one of his hits 'Millennial' to then immediately carry onto new songs like 'Blue Monday' and 'Hold Out' to warm up his crowd.
As Sam swaps guitars for his next play, a man shouts out his love to whom he giggling responds with "thanks Dad". Everyone bursts out laughing at Fender's sweetness and humility that transpires all the few times he talks through the night.
A sudden sleek guitar intro launches 'All Is On My Side'. He then transitions into another one of his well-known releases, 'Start Again' - a catchy political song about a dystopian reality where the world is offered to start all over again only to repeat the same mistakes over and over.
Not even halfway through the night and the young Geordie singer/songwriter has the crowd completely in the palm of his hand. Playing through 'Dead Boys', 'That Sound' and 'The Change', he appears unstoppable and ravenous. The whole house is so invested - singing, dancing and nodding - clearly showing that there is no other place they would rather be either.
His latest release 'Friday Fighting' also makes an appearance on the set list confirming that every single tune he writes, and plays, is absolutely colossal... each and everyone of them has the potential to become the next greatest indie rock hit!
From the first chords, deafening cheers welcome 'Greasy Spoon' - this is, in fact, one of Fender's most interesting songs that manages to leave the biggest impact on the listener. Deep lyrics and moody sounds portray the daily struggles women face with sexual abuse and the issue of consent. He sends shivers down the spine as he repeatedly sings "I am a woman" crouching down on his guitar and enabling the audience to empathize and identify itself with the pain of female mistreatment.
The night flies by and it’s time for the band to accompany Sam for one last track. After playing 'Young God' – the song that started this whole journey - they leave him alone on stage. Surprisingly Fender also abandons his guitar as he positions himself in front of a keyboard to close off the night. Promising he will not be playing Adele, he treats his fans to an exclusive extra performance where his incredible vocal range and daintiness leap over a melancholic tune allows him to portray all his buried pain.
Thanking the crowd for braving the storm to come see him on such an important night, he jumps off the stage, leaving a bittersweet taste but only because it's hard to get enough of such a talented guy.
He is probably one of the most exciting and brightest artists to have entered the scene in the last few months. Sam already possess unmistakable maturity and great musical skills which could make him ready for international success. He sounds so much like Catfish and the Bottlemen and Nothing But Thieves' solo love child with further freshness, innovation and a strong sense of the reality he lives in that could take him far far away.