Sam Fender has Leeds Dancing in the dark at the O2 Academy

Sam Fender – Leeds O2 Academy – 28/11/19

At just 25 years old Sam Fender (9) really has rocketed up the music scene in the past year. Within just over two years since his first single release of ‘Play God’, the Geordie has already bagged himself a UK number 1 album with ‘Hypersonic Missiles’ among a number of decorated awards including the Critics’ Choice Award at the Brits last year. His first studio album ‘Hypersonic Missiles’ was only released in September, but feels like it has been around for ages with so many huge singles previously released. It really is no surprise he’s already lining up an arenas for his 2020 tour, but for now he’s got a huge sold out UK tour to attend to first to prove his worth on the stage to see if he can live up to everyone’s huge expectations.

A sold-out Leeds 02 academy is packed front to back and the drinks are flowing swimmingly well for a Thursday night, while a diverse crowd excitedly chatter away as the start of his show looms every so closely. There’s an electric atmosphere in the room just from his presence as he takes to the stage with his band to get the night starting on the front foot with ‘Will We Talk?’. Backed with his solid band, Sam Fender really delivers live as he does on his album. His vocals and band are on point, and everything from the saxophone to the drums sound perfect in the O2 Academy.

Tearing through his set of honest tongue and cheek lyrics and pop rock bangers, Sam has everyone eating out of the palm of his hand, and rightly so with such a solid performance from start to finish. Tracks such as ‘Will We Talk’, ‘The Borders’, ‘Dead Boys’ and ‘Play God’ from the new album all feature in the first half of the set. Even some of his older material from the ‘Dead Boys’ EP that didn’t make the cut for the album sound as good live as ever. The driving ‘Spice’ has everyone bouncing along and laughing at the screens as the frontman pokes fun at some defaced political figures in the form of Boris Johnson and Donald Trump portrayed as the devil.

His huge hit single and album title track ‘Hypersonic Missiles’ sends drinks flying across the academy like missiles as the volume is raised once again for one of the highlights of the show. The breakdown after a saxy solo has everyone singing along as the frontman grins on watching from the stage before launching us into the final part of the song leaving everyone breathless.

An encore of the cheeky ‘Poundshop Kardashians’ and ‘Leave Fast’ by the frontman alone demonstrate the vocal strength of the singer and that he can hold the stage as a solo artist even without his band behind him with ease. Though they do return promptly to finish off the set with ‘Saturday’ & ‘That Sound’ before closing out with a cover of ‘Dancing In The Dark’ by the frontman’s hero Bruce Springsteen, and does it every piece of justice possible.

An incredible set from start to finish which felt like it was over within the blink of an eye. Roll on 2020 so we can see the Geordie back in Leeds faced with 13,000 fans screaming back at him just down the road at the First Direct Arena. We questioned if it might be too soon for him to take to the big stage, but maybe he should already be there after all?

Check out all the live photos from this show here!

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Photo Credit: © Danny Peart Photography 2019

Danny Peart
Editor / Live Music Photographer / Journalist at Soundcheck-Live

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