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Review: Fontaines DC – Swansea Arena

28 Nov 2022 3 minute read
Fontaines DC at Swansea Arena (Credit: Ian Skinner)

Harry Hawkins

There’s a golden bridge lit up and leading thousands of music fans into the new Swansea Arena. The cold bites as people walk together in groups or couples but there is warm hum of energy coming from the expectation that we are about to see something special.

Since releasing their first album Dogrel in 2019 Fontaines DC have been busy. Their second album, A Hero’s Death, came out in 2020 and the third Skinty Fia was written and recorded while on a seemingly endless tour to promote the two previous records and came out earlier this year.

Hard work pays off, or so the cliche goes, but in the band’s case their rise over that time frame has been spectacular. Mercury and Grammy nominations were followed by a headline slot at Green Man and being crowned Best Band in the World by NME.

So here we have it the “best band in the world” playing the 3,500 capacity Swansea Arena – no wonder people are expecting so much.

Once inside they rip into opening track A Hero’s Death before two tracks from the first album Sha Sha Sha which inspires a huge singalong and Television Screens.

Red Wall

The band then flit between albums playing seven tracks from Skinty Fia, six from A Hero’s Death and seven from first record Dogrel with the sound being driven by the bass of Connor Deegan III.

It’s unclear if singer Grian Chatten feeds off the crowd’s energy or they off he but he lunges, leaps, and flails his arms with an explosive fervour throughout the whole 90-minute set as bodies at the front are joyously soaked in sweat and spilled beer.

The problem, perhaps, when you have so many tracks are what ones to leave off the setlist. In World Cup week when Wales fans sing Yma O Hyd with pride and passion it does seem a shame the band’s ode to the Irish language In ár gCroíthe go deo is missing (along with perhaps Liberty Belle – given the nearby stadium).

The song’s title comes from the battle faced by the family of Margaret Keane who requested a In ár gCroíthe go deo on her headstone.

Irish-born Margaret died in Coventry and the inscription – which translates as “in our hearts forever” – was opposed by church of England leaders who argued it could be declared “political” and refused to grant its permission without it also being written in English.

But maybe the band understand the Swansea audience can join Dafydd Iwan and the Red Wall to sing about suppression of culture and language instead and leave it for them.

And as they play final track I Love You red ticker tape bearing the message of the same three words falls from the roof and it appears the feeling is mutual and no one really cares what was missing.

Setlist:

A Hero’s Death
Sha Sha Sha
Television Screens
Skinty Fia
I Don’t Belong
You Said
Big Shot
Chequeless Reckless
Nabokov
Too Real
How Cold Love Is
A Lucid Dream
Roy’s Tune
Jackie Down The Line
Roman Holiday
Televised Mind
Big
Boys In The Better Land
I Love You


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