06 May 2019 (gig)
09 May 2019
Newcastle four-piece ‘A Festival, A Parade’ kicked off the evening at the Empire. With hints of The Editors and the shoe gazing vibe of My Bloody Valentine, their atmospheric sound and baritone vocals make them one to watch out for.
Then it was Sam Fender’s turn to take the stage to much delight from an eager crowd. His reputation certainly precedes him. Named the BBC’s Sound of 2018 and Brit Award Critic’s choice for 2019, he told the story how he once came to see a band at Shepherds Bush Empire a few years ago with his manager who said to him it would be him one day on that stage… and here he was.
This likeable young guy from Newcastle, with a thick accent and Damon Albarn haircut, had the audience eating out of his hands. The emotive Dead Boys, anthemic and sadly so pertinent, and Hypersonic Missiles from his upcoming album showcase his talent. But it was when he performed a stripped down Poundshop Kardashians, that It was evident how big a song-writer he is. As the crowd belted out the chorus long after the song was finished, Sam stood there with a beaming smile, not quite believing it.
His lyrics have a political edge, a young person angry about the state of the world. The supporting band, along with saxophonist, would have given the E Street Band a run for their money. But on his own, with just guitar and his powerful melodic voice that has equally pleasing textures and shades of Jeff Buckley, he stood tall.
Oasis’s Morning Glory cover soared to a satisfying climax. The energy in the venue was electrifying. A sold out show before a debut album.
What’s the story Sam? I think it will be bigger than morning glory for a very talented and grounded young man. (I sound like my grandmother!)