Review - Fontaines D.C. at Northampton Roadmender
It is the first gig back at the venue since the start of the Covid pandemic
"Life ain't always empty
Life ain't always empty
Life ain't always empty
Life ain't always empty"
A finger-snapping, face-slapping Grian Chatten, lead singer of Fontaines D.C., spits out the lyrics to A Hero's Death, sometimes prowling, sometimes impassive - channelling the Beat movement and great Irish poets - telling us his truths.
Wordy and densely packed with poetic rhythm balanced with mesmerising repetition - a holy chant, a prayer to life, a desiderata.
"Don't get stuck in the past
Say your favourite things at mass
Tell your mother that you love her
And go out of your way for others
Sit beneath a light that suits ya
And look forward to a brighter future."
Amen to that.
We've waited a long time for a gig. A real sweaty sticky packed together necks craned beer-in-hand gig. Fontaines D.C. brought us back to life as if nothing had changed. The pause button on live music was joyfully released and the crowd knew what was expected.
We didn't want to get stuck in the past and the first gig back at the Roadmender was a jolt back to all that is great about live music - Oh the anticipation, queuing for the bar, bumping into friends, checking out the merch, checking out the support act, where to stand to wait for the band.
We'd waited to show proof of double jab or a negative Covid test to be allowed entry. We'd waited to be unleashed.
Waiting. This wait has been longer than most - 15 months - and so it sounds all the sweeter, all the more vivid to our live music-deprived ears.
For a brief moment a sensory overload as lights go on and cheers and whistles set the brain ringing.
Storming on with the unrelenting Hurricane Laughter, the band switched to the haunting I Don't Belong.
With tracks from their highly acclaimed albums, Mercury Prize nominated Dogrel and Grammy Award nominated A Hero's Death, the Dublin five-piece ran through the crowd-pleasing one-and-a-half hour set seamlessly.
With just a brief 'thanks for coming' from the band, Grian Chatten (vocals), Carlos O'Connell (guitar), Conor Curley (guitar), Conor Deegan III (bass), and Tom Coll (drums) got on with the job of entertaining the crowd.
Although the Roadmender had asked that people refrain from "thrashing, slam dancing or going HAM" with mosh monitors keeping an eye on the livelier gig-goers, an occasional exuberant fan couldn't help themselves with a foray onto the shoulders of friends. The moshing reached a crescendo on the final song - I Was Born.
And so were we, re-born as we left, covered in heaven knows what, inhaling who knows who, but out into the warm balmy night as gig-goers.
Life ain't always empty - it's full of beautiful life. Go out and enjoy. Support your local music venues, support your local bands.
Set list: Hurricane Laughter, I Don't Belong, Chequeless Reckless, Big, Lucid Dream, Roy's Tune, Oh Such A Spring, Television Screens, Televised Mind, Sha Sha Sha, You Said, Too Real, A Hero's Death, Boys, Liberty, Dublin City Sky, I Was Born.
Fontaines D.C. headlined the Roadmender thanks to a partnership between the Music Venue Trust and The National Lottery to support grassroots music venues across the UK, part of the Revive Live Tour series.