sun 05/12/2021

Fontaines DC, Barrowland, Glasgow review - flowers and football terrace anthems from triumphant Dublin quintet | reviews, news & interviews

Fontaines DC, Barrowland, Glasgow review - flowers and football terrace anthems from triumphant Dublin quintet

Fontaines DC, Barrowland, Glasgow review - flowers and football terrace anthems from triumphant Dublin quintet

The Irish rockers deliver a fierce and furious set that sparked delirium

Fontaines DC in a pensive mood

Upon emerging onstage at the Barrowland, Fontaines DC took time to pass flowers into the crowd. Aside from the occasional thank-you later on, that was the only genteel note struck in a thrilling, compelling and often bruising set. Their last visit to Glasgow back in 2019 had been hindered at times by some dubious sound, but there were no such issues here. Instead, this was a group in control throughout, pacing the set well and sounding rousingly triumphant by the night’s end.

A wider repertoire helped, too. The set was split nearly exactly between debut offering Dogrel and last year’s A Hero’s Death, a record released at the height of the pandemic when live performances seemed depressingly far away indeed, and material from it flourished in a live setting. The title track which opened the evening let singer Grian Chatten snarl ferociously, dressed in a tracksuit with the sleeves rolling over his hands. It gave the impression the outfit was too big for him, but as a band they themselves sounded larger, even beefier than before, with drummer Tom Coll offering a consistently totemic backbeat.

That muscular impression ran through several of the newer tracks, most notably on a truly spellbinding "A Televised Mind", which offered both coruscating noise and a flurry of dizzying lights. Shade was offered by the poppy 60s guitar humming throughout "I Was Not Born", and a woozy "You Said" that opened the encore in a dreamy manner, offsetting the virulent nature of the rest of the gig.

On record, the band’s sharp lyrics and thoughtful nature seep out, but in a live setting these are also songs that sound ripe for football terraces, an impression confirmed during the break for the encore when the crowd broke into a chant dedicated to the Scotland midfielder John McGinn. Yes, there is poetry and depth there, however they were coated with a far more celebratory sheen, and not just because it’s easy to sing that perennial crowd favourite “Here we, here we, here we fucking go” alongside the opening of some of them.

Material from Dogrel was greeted like the return of conquering heroes – the brisk bounce of "Sha Sha Sha", a "Hurricane Laughter" delivered with enough intensity to justify those Fall comparisons, the studied build-up to "Chequeless Reckless" that saw Coll grinning away behind his kit at the reaction generated and the Them-aping garage rock of "Boys in the Better Land".

As a frontman, Chatten seemed more assured than before, pacing and prowling the stage, catching an Irish tricolour flag tossed onstage and delivering his vocals with an almost brutal bark. In contrast, his bandmates mostly stayed as still as a slasher movie villain observing prey, letting noise waft over an increasingly sweaty crowd.

By that point Chatten had ditched the tracksuit top for a Lou Reed T-shirt. It is far too early to draw any comparisons with, say, a defining act like the Velvet Underground, but as the show-closing "Liberty Belle" provoked another lusty sing-a-long and communal hugs aplenty, there should be no doubt that Fontaines DC are that rare thing – a band to truly believe in, with mind and heart alike.

There is poetry and depth there, however they were coated with a far more celebratory sheen

rating

Editor Rating: 
5
Average: 5 (1 vote)

Share this article

Add comment

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters