Sam Fender is just getting started at Leeds Arena

Sam Fender – Leeds Arena – 24/11/2021

Flash back to September 2019 when the world was a little less of a crazy place, Sam Fender released his first full length album ‘Hypersonic Missiles’ off the back of a stint of sold out academy shows all over the UK. He stole our hearts with his Bruce Springsteen inspired indie rock and down to earth personality. 2020 was going to be the start of big things for Sam Fender, as he was set to embark on a huge Arena tour across the UK.

Having been postponed and rearranged multiple times due to Covid, you’d have expected the hype to have slightly calmed down, but Sam Fender has used his time wisely to bring to us another new album in the form of ‘Seventeen Going Under’ only rocketing him to further stardom. His old UK arena tour may well be overdue and sold out, but the excitement across the UK is huge to finally catch him live for the first time for a couple of years.

This evening’s show at Leeds Arena follows off the back of an astonishing hometown arena show in Newcastle, and a double date at Alexandra Palace over the weekend. So Sam and the band are well warmed up and ready to bring the show to Leeds in its full swing.

The arena is packed floor to roof as the band take the stage to the sound of Star Wars ‘Imperial March’ played on the saxophone by Johnny Blue Hat, as Sam Fender emerges from the smoke on a red lit stage to the sound of deafening screams.

There’s no messing around as straight away the fuzzy intro of ‘Will We Talk’ takes over and Sam Fender thrashes out the opening chords leading us into the first verse, as the whole arena back him up singing their hearts out from lift off.

Sam stands centre stage glued to his microphone with guitar in hand focusing on his performance showing little emotion, but within the breakdown of his songs when he takes a step back from the microphone he’s beaming with a smile from ear to ear and it’s clear he’s loving every minute being back on stage with his bandmates.

For a set which originally would have been very easy to predict with just the one album and EP to mix a setlist from, we’re now thrown back and forth between tracks from ‘Hypersonic Missiles’ and new album ‘Seventeen Going Under’ keeping us all on our toes.

It’s a solid set built up of the best of his 2019 album with ‘Dead Boys’, ‘The Borders’, ‘Play God’ & ‘Saturday’, as well as some of our old favourites such as the chilled ‘All Is On Our Side’ and in contrast the frantic ‘Spice’ which opens up the mosh pits on the floor for the energetic chorus.

From his new album we’re treated to hearing some of the new material live for the first time. ‘Getting Started’ and ‘Mantra’ feature early, before we’re thrown into a run of new material mid set. B side ‘Howden Aldi Death Queue’ kicks up a fuss on the floor and leads us nicely into ‘Get You Down’. The recent single ‘Spit Of You’ is dedicated to all the Dad’s as Sam shouts out to his father in the crowd before the song kicks off, backed visually by images of the band as children with their fathers which is a really special moment.

‘Seventeen Going Under’ brings one of the highlights of the set as expected from the lead single of the new album. It’s fair to say some bands don’t quite live up to the quality of their albums when they are live, but Sam Fender and his crew are absolutely flawless. Sam’s vocals are superb and the band look and sound as tight as ever as they glide through their set effortlessly.

As ever Sam plays a couple of covers from his hero Bruce Springsteen, before ‘Hypersonic Missiles’ closes out the night confidently with blasts of CO2, and the final chorus leaves the arena snowing with white confetti and everyone grinning with joy from a fantastic show.

Arguable there’s a few songs that could have been included in the set tonight which would have gone down fantastically like ‘Aye’ & ‘Long Way Off’, but with a huge tour next year including Castlefield bowl & Wembley SSE Arena we have something extra to look forward to, with potential of a few extra songs for their live debut and the return of some golden oldies.

It’s clear from tonight that Sam is rocketing into stardom and enjoying every moment of it, and if it continues there’s no reason why after one more hit album he wouldn’t be walking out headlining the main stage at Reading & Leeds festival in the near future.

Check out the full set of live photos here!


Photo Credit: © Danny Peart Photography 2021
FB: Danny Peart PhotographyInsta: @dpeart7 / Twitter: @peart7

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

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