Sam Fender performing his Seventeen Going Under Tour at The Motorpoint Arena on Sunday 20th March 2022.

Review by Kevin Cooper

Former bartender Sam Fender was given a hero’s welcome at the Motorpoint Arena in Nottingham on Sunday night, as he entertained with his epic anthems which delivered eeriness, intimacy and utter exhilaration to the packed crowd.

Undoubtedly one of the UK’s most exciting new voices he has secured a second number one album with his most introspective project yet, Seventeen Going Under. From releasing his debut single Play God back in 2017 to his critically acclaimed debut EP, Dead Boys in 2018, his masterful debut album Hypersonic Missiles in 2019 and now his Brit award nominated second album, Seventeen Going Under, this lad from North Shields has really hit the big time.

Walking on stage to almost mass hysteria, he crashed into Will We Talk that saw him and his band of best mates, who double up as belting musicians, show off their tight live musicality. Follow up song Getting Started, a song inspired by escapism and stark reality in equal measure got things started on an even keel.

Dead Boys, still his most devastatingly brilliant song, saw Fender and the audience screaming along to the heavily impactful lyrics as they sing the lament to male suicide, making for an eerie and poignant moment. For the gorgeously reflective Mantra purple strobe lights filled the stage as Fender performed it exquisitely with so much passion.

There was the gospel inspired Better Of Me and fans favourite The Borders which provoked a massive sing along which had the crowd forgiving him when he messed up part of his guitar solo. It was after all the first night of his six night arena tour.

Before the crowd got too chilled out, Fender lifted the atmosphere as the thundering drums filled the Arena during Spice and the jagged punky flair during the show’s heaviest offering Howdon Aldi Death Queue.

Showcasing his vocal power which cuts through the crowd with an astonishing punch, Fender never crosses into abrasiveness. Instead his sweet endearing tone absolutely enchants this packed crowd as he delivers the likes of new song Get You Down. For Spit Of You he had old photos of his childhood displayed on the big screen behind him before bringing the main set to a close by giving a live debut to new songs The Leveller and The Dying Light which saw him behind the piano as the crowd lit the Arena up with their mobile phone torches, and as the song picked up there was an explosion of confetti.

For the encore there were unfortunate technical issues with Dean Thompson’s guitar which saw Fender come onto the stage to entertain the crowd while the crew sorted it out. When the first chords of Leave Fast sounded out, the crowd went wild. Despite it being a song that has not been performed live since his record breaking socially distanced show in Newcastle back in August 2021 at the height of Covid, the crowd knew all the words and were able to help Fender recover as he forgot them and some of the chords.

Still not sorted there was an additional surprise of an acoustic version of Saturday which was a delight before the band came back on stage to repeat the song which was a showstopper. For the live debut of Paradigms drummer Drew Michael excelled before the nostalgic album title track Seventeen Going Under saw the Arena fill with dried ice.

Finishing with the euphoric breakout single, Hypersonic Missiles, Fender ended his show on a wave of high energy which felt like a statement of intent from a musician that is most definitely on the right stage in the right Arena.