“A sell-out is someone who becomes a hypocrite in the name of money. An idiot is someone who lets their education do all of their thinking. A phony is someone who demands respect for the principles they effect. A dilettante is someone who can’t tell the difference between fashion and style. Charisma is exquisite manipulation, and money is a sandpit of the soul.”
Recently crowned by Rough Trade as being their record of the year, Dogrel by the mighty Fontaines D.C. is a record that you need to witness in a live setting. If like me, you’ve been playing it almost religiously since it came out this year you will know just how powerful this record is. It’s romantic, it’s brutal, it’s honest and it is powerful. There’s only one way to play it, and that’s loud. In a live setting, it becomes something else. I knew it was going to blow my mind, but my god it exceeded everything and anything I thought about this beautiful band.
Their set is basically Dogrel in full, and every song is performed with this ferocious energy that makes you believe in every single word that comes out of Grian’s mouth. He’s a poet yet he delivers the words in a way of a preacher, it’s absolutely hypnotising and such a great thing to witness. As I watch the band, I can’t help but feel that they have the same energy and presence that The Birthday Party had. Grian stalks the stage like a young Nick Cave; Carlos and Conor are like Rowland S. Howard and Mick Harvey/Blixa.
Fontaines D.C. are unapologetically loud, and they touch on subjects that most tend to shy away from. Their songs touch on the sexism in the workplace to dreaming of being big to black cab drivers. There is so much reality in their songs, and this reality is something that many would fear or try to shy away from. No one at the Ritz last night was shying away from any of this. Pints of beer were flying; middle aged men were screaming the songs at the top of their lungs and the kids at the front were no doubt soaking up everything Fontaines were giving us to create their own noise in the future. I sure hope they do.
Songs like Too Real, Sha Sha Sha and Liberty Belle see the venue absolutely erupt in euphoria. We all know that this is one of the greatest records of the year and beyond, but trust me it all changes when you see it live and when you are surrounded with people who love this record, and this band as much as you do. You feel at home and oddly secure. Chequeless Reckless was my highlight for sure, but I’m going to touch on the set closer Big shortly which was equally as powerful. So, Chequless Reckless goes beyond being a song; it is a vital piece of poetry that should be studied. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if, in the future their lyrics find their way onto syllabuses in schools. Fontaines are no doubt our future and are showing us a side that we need to be exposed to. You can see their world anywhere, but so many chose to ignore it. Don’t. Just don’t. I love the way the band just play with this urgency and dedication to make these songs be heard. Grian’s vocals takeover the venue, but when you see the sheer devotion in the way Tom beats the living shit out of the drums and how Conor treats his bass like a machine gun not to forget how Carlos and Conor thrash their guitars about with this sheer Punk energy that would make even Johnny Ramone proud if he was here. If you were at this show last night, chances are that like me, your love and obsession for Fontaines has gone through the roof.
The band end with Dogrel’s opener, Big. In a way, this has become a bit of an anthem. All their songs have done this. Fontaines could easily sell out arenas there’s no denying that, and maybe this will now be the last time we get to see them in a venue this size but their songs and the way they perform them do create a sense of intimacy and sheer devotion between the band and the fans. Big is THAT song that will inspire many to get out of their current town and to make it elsewhere. Anyone can do it, and the self-belief that Fontaines have, and had got them where they are now. Big is the song you play to pump yourself up or to just give yourself reassurance that you can make something of yourself, even if your beginnings aren’t grand.
If you’re looking for a band that will blow your mind, burst your eardrums and leave you covered in other people’s drinks- then go to a Fontaines show. It was most certainly one of those shows that you know people will be talking about in decades from now; it was memorable for so many reasons, and as time goes on those reasons will evolve. People will start bands because of this show, people will create their own poetry because of this show, this band and Dogrel. There is no denying just how brilliant Fontaines are and of course, they deserve to be big. Last night’s show went beyond proving that. Definitely one of my favourite shows of the year.