Live Review: Sam Fender at Gorilla, Manchester

Hector Gannet opening the show

Kicking off their UK tour following the success of their Critics Choice BRIT Award, Sam Fender took over Gorilla with support from fellow North Shield-ers Hector Gannet. The indie band have a similar style to Sam Fender and are going into the studio later this year to record so are ones to watch out for in the coming year.

Fender started off the set with some of his less well known tracks with moody themes against the jangle of his aptly named Fender Jazzmaster guitar. Playing complicated lead guitar parts alongside his singing reveals the high level of his musical abilities (he is so much more than a pretty face).

One surprising thing about Sam is the way he appears so genuinely shocked and overwhelmed by his blow out success, so humbled yet powerful and confident at the same time. Later on his acapella sets, whether planned or as a result of rhythm guitarist Deano’s technical difficulties, they are always delivered to an eerily still audience: emotional and captivated by the intensity of his vocals. “Deano” chants from the crowd throughout the set showed how the bands following has taken off dramatically in the past few months.

Fender’s striking and intense vocals are complimented perfectly by light hearted jokes and chats with the audience across sips of tea in between songs. The warmth of his personality shines through alongside a real fluency in guitar, as he varies the sound from hazy shoegaze to heavy bass sounding guitar, carrying this through alternations between a Stratocaster and Jazzmaster, both iconic Fender models of course.

Following a record-breakingly short encore, which Fender comments on being ridiculous anyway, “Leave fast” is played acapella style with guitarist Deano joining the end part, complimenting Fender’s lead, in a heart-warming linkage formation which shows their bond.

Fender has a truly real and powerful voice, with a Jeff Buckley essence: effortless and spine tingling, almost ghostly at times. He is no stranger to writing heartfelt and meaningful lyrics about things that matter, he doesn’t shy away from issues such as Brexit, politics and feminism. He has so much potential yet is so unaware of it, which is quite adorning.

Fender finishes on single “That Sound” which he admits is “a rip off of every Manchester band ever” which brings delight to the excited audience.

Fender will be in Manchester again on May the 2nd at O2 Ritz and his return should not be missed.

Sam Fender website:

Written and Photos by Tilda Gratton

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