Sam Fender, the 23-year-old Tyneside singer, played to a sold out crowd at Soup Kitchen in Manchester on Monday, and demonstrated his up and coming credentials to the idolising audience. Following his naming in BBC’s Sound of 2018 list, he ascended Radio 1’s playlist and secured an appearance on Later…With Jools Holland; with a sold out debut tour and all the hype surrounding him, there were high expectations in the NQ venue. Strolling upon stage, partnered with the instrument he shares a last name with, he launched straight into the buoyant ‘Millennial’, setting the tone for his lyrical topics; this song in particular detailing a lack of fondness towards his “young and dumb” millennial peers.
Swapping guitars, Sam begins ‘Start Again’, a political foray imagining a dystopian world where everyone can start all over again, a naïve young idealism perhaps not resonating so much with the older members of the crowd. Distinctly generational, Fender’s narratives reflect the rising wokeness of young musicians. Indeed, Fender’s bruising and husky tones align themselves with ease to tales of small town banality; ‘Leave Fast’ and ‘Dead Boys’ depicting grim realities of his growing up, and the epidemic of suicide amongst young men.
Despite minimal talking and only a recent burgeoning career, Fender commanded a stage presence and a legion of vocal fans at the front of the venue; impressively heralding a teen idol status even in an 18+ venue. Highlighting his multi instrumentality, he played solo keys and acoustic sporadically throughout, harking back to his roots. However, perhaps Sam Fender’s singularity lies in his avoidance of love songs, instead choosing to focus on politically charged issues of government corruption and sexual harassment, creating an almost anarchic indie sound. The strongest performance of the night is ‘Play God’. He left the crowd with ‘Leave Fast’, the escapism and idealism of the song leaving the crowd imploring for an encore, which they did not receive, but rest assured Sam Fender is returning to Manchester in February.