It’s a cold and rainy, miserable November evening on what is traditionally the quietest gig night of the week. It is Monday night in (according to Q Magazine) “unfashionable Norwich” but as I join the real queue outside the Waterfront, chatting in the rain waiting for the doors to open I discover people have also travelled from much further than Norwich for this gig. Our city certainly gets some cracking gigs. Two of those I had spoken to had come from Ipswich and Felixstowe. At the same time Norwich Arts Centre was hosting a sellout gig by Wandering Hearts whilst Miles Kane and Cabbage were playing the LCR, this was a manic Monday. I was happy with my choice of gig though, snapping up a ticket as soon as this one was announced way back in February. What we had was an amazing night of post-punk energy. This was my 200th gig of 2018 and shame & Fontaines D.C. in particular, marked it in fine style.
To make things even more exciting the supports were from Sorry and the brilliant Fontaines DC from Dublin. A band who really excite me and I think I was looking forward to their appearance more than any on the bill. They did not disappoint. Within five minutes of the doors opening and people still filing in they started, unannounced at 7:45pm sharp. The songs are terrific, the band brilliant and a singer, Grian Chatten, who sings in his own accent and has something of Ian Curtis/Ian McCulloch and MES about him, without saying much apart from the occasional cheers he has massive stage presence. I was expecting great things from them and they still blew me away, there’s a brooding intensity about them and sensational power. They start and finish without a word, letting the music do all the talking, and boy does it speak! They had me mesmerised and made me completely forget I was soaked to the skin from my journey in and the wait in the queue. I could have left the venue a happy man after their 30 minute slot but let’s have a Norwich headline show from Fontaines DC soon please! I want to see this band again.
Fontaines DC must be a hard act to follow and I don’t think Sorry quite managed it. The drummer is terrific but I just wasn’t feeling the songs and felt rather underwhelmed. Sorry. Their recordings sound considerably better though so maybe there was a sound issue with the vocals.
I fancied a drink after that relative disappointment and when I finally succeeded some twenty minutes later it was almost time for shame, who delivered big-time, really racking things back up again. The energy of this band is something else, especially from bassist Josh Finerty who is racing up and down the stage and jumping around the whole time, whilst Charlie Steen has masses of presence and charisma and a Lydon-esque stare. Engaging brilliantly with the audience and stating several times how much they were loving their first visit to Norwich. There is fun, great music, anger in the songs, ferocious power and even some crowd walking. What started off as a large moshpit soon grew into a throbbing mass of bouncing bodies that covered most of the rammed floorspace. I have not seen scenes like this on this scale in decades, with a great range of ages too. People moshing spanned teens to 60 year olds. Fantastic!
Accompanied by some retina-scorching but impressively dramatic strobes and lighting we had most of the tracks from one of Rough Trade’s albums of the year Songs of Praise, plus the first song they ever wrote (One Rizla), performed they said to commemorate their Norwich visit. We were also treated to a couple of brand new ones which, excitingly, were as strong as anything in the set which closed with a glorious encore of Concrete and Charlie telling us to make the most of it, “go mad but respect those around you!”
A sellout crowd witnessed something truly special and genuinely exciting. Shame were immense and it felt like a real moment. This is one of those bands that crop up in times like these, much like Idles, who connect with people. Powerful stuff and undoubtedly one of my gigs of the year with two thrilling bands that are absolutely the real deal. I thought after the Fontaines DC set that if we saw anything else on the night that matched or bettered it that it would be quite a landmark gig. It was.
“The Waterfront presents
+ Sorry + Fontaines D.C.
Monday 26th November 2018
£13 ADV + booking fee
Sorry are a new London band centred around Asha Lorenz & Louis O’Bryen, two 19-year-old childhood best friends, who along with Lincoln Barrett (drums) and Campbell Baum (bass) have been playing on London’s underground circuit since 2015. ‘2 Down 2 Dance’ is their second official release for Domino, produced by Oli Barton-Wood (Alaskalaska, HMLTD), featuring Asha and Louis’ twisted twin vocals punctuating a typically catchy chorus laden with grungy guitars and surging beats.
“This band just keep getting better and better” – Rough Trade
“Snarling, Swaggering Post Punk” – Stereogum
“The energy, the urgency and the emotion of these brilliant new songs made me stand up and take notice that this is the band I’ve been waiting for” – John Richards – KEXP, Seattle
“I’ve played this about 15 times since yesterday. It’s a bit like hearing Idles for the first time. I really think there’s something here” – Steve Lamacq / BBC 6 Music
Fontaines D.C. met as a quintet in Dublin, influenced and driven in equal measure by the rich history of their hometown’s counter-culture, their response has been to make concise and immediately authentic indie-punk that has done anything but fall on deaf ears.
The last nine months have seen Fontaines D.C. release three hotly received double A-side singles, all of which were named as singles of the week by Rough Trade, and garnered early support from the likes of Steve Lamacq and others on BBC 6 Music, as well as earning feature space from every major Irish publication. Similarly, the band have played a number of shows across Europe, Ireland and the UK earning a reputation for their brooding and trenchant live performances, supporting the likes of The Horrors, Girl Band and The Lemon Twigs, as well as playing festival slots at Electric Picnic, Hard Working Class Heroes and Other Voices.
Previous singles such as ‘Liberty Belle’ and ‘Hurricane Laughter’ call to mind the likes of the Modern Lovers, The Fall, Iggy Pop and The Strokes, seamlessly blending immediate lyrical hooks with melodic golden-era indie instrumentation, and ‘70s Stooges punk thrust, all of which is strewn with defiant rock and roll overtones. On their new AA Side Single ‘Chequeless Reckless/ Boys In The Better Land” the band have decided to delve even deeper into their influences (which they personally cite as spanning from The La’s, to The Pogues to Buddy Holly) employing hypnotic, kraut-rock infused cyclical riffs, whilst channelling Dublin into their concise and often-unassumingly poetic lyrics with a distinctive gritty Irish drawl.”
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Norwich: Music City, UK. A Norwich playlist of well over 30 hours of local music on Spotify: