Fontaines D.C. have come a long, long, long way from one of their earliest unkempt performances in Glasgow’s BLOC. Back then the post punk quintet where just cutting their teeth on the up and coming scene and had only played a handful of shows, their set was authentic and full of fire but somewhat chaotic in the same style as early Libertines gigs.
Tonight feels like a second homecoming, having sold out the intimidating SWG3 warehouse space months in advance, the Dubliners have refined their skills in the way that only an unrelenting touring schedule (seriously when were you boys last home?) can.
The band storm on stage to rapturous applause right from the opening thud of ‘Hurricane Laughter’. Frontman Grian Chatten has accumulated the reputation of shy, tortured poet, his on stage presence is agitated, yet commanding as he paces nervously back and forth like a caged animal.
Barely pausing for breath, and nervously clicking his fingers almost in a soothing fashion, Chatten flows right into ‘Checkless Reckless’ which demonstrates his affinity for spoken word style, it’s cool and it’s aloof, in fact if you squint just right in the light he could be a very young Mark E Smith circa Middle Class Revolt.
And why not? Chatten has been lauded as a poet of the working classes – anyone who gets teenagers talking about James Joyce and Yeats is already a hero in my eyes. The band hurtle through the set at breakneck speed, with minimal chat in-between, playing 2019’s critically acclaimed ‘Dogrel’ in its entirety.
‘Sha Sha Sha’ with its big bass noise and easily chantable chorus sees the first of the crowd surfers emerge from the mosh pit, which seems to be made up mainly of teenagers who seem to be mirroring the summer back catalogue from Urban Outfitter.
A moment of repose and a slower pace for ‘Roy’s Tune’ seems to unite parents and their children who have come to the gig together – illustrating the reach that Fontaines have at the moment. It’s impressive to hear a thousand or so punters cooing the chorus, ‘I hate the way they use her, I hate the way the use her’ in effortless synchronicity and I’m not going to lie – there was a hint of an Irish accent, even although the room was full of Glaswegians.
The calm, was obviously to allow the band a slight breather before they launch into 2018 single ‘Too Real’ instantly sending the crowd into a pogoing frenzy. Chatten is back to canvasing the stage and almost sucking in the energy from the crowd –kind of like an emotional vampire, only instead of taking everything from you and leaving you an empty husk of human flesh, the union seems to be symbiotic – the crowd and Chatten equally drinking up each other’s life force. The delivery is completely visceral and showcase the band doing what they do best. Playing live. I’ve seen many things, but I’m not sure I’ve spotted a guitarist playing guitar with a half drunk bottle of beer the way Connor O’ Connell was during this song.
Next up was ‘Liberty Bell’ a song that pays homage to the neighbourhood in Dublin named the Liberties that many of the members hail from, followed by ‘Boy’s in the Better Land’ and ‘Dublin City Sky’.
‘You get an extra song, as you’ve been a great crowd’ announces Chatten before treating the band to a new song called ‘Hero’s Death’ which see’s O’Connell and Conor Curley sharing a tender moment swigging Buckfast (would you even be in Glasgow without supping on the dreaded aperitif?) and sitting down on stage together.
Chatten is back to stretching out his Kurt Cobain style, already oversized, cable knit Jumper, before explaining ‘This is our last song and we don’t play encores.’ Tom Coll’s relentless drum intro for ‘Big’ is instantly recognisable, the band bash out a solid minute and a half of unadulterated, post-punk anthemic garage, with soaring soundscapes and the saccharine sweet wording of ‘My childhood was small, but I’m gonna be big’ delivered with an almost feral howl. It’s testament to the strength not only in the varied following Fontaines D.C. have amassed but to the accessibility of the lyrics, truly a homecoming gig for Glasgow’s – surely now adopted sons?