The glorious ball of sunshine that hangs over Glastonbury’s Other Stage feels like it might be more suitable for a chirpy popstar that it is for an appearance from Ireland’s introverted best – but there can be no denying that Fontaines D.C. are deserving of a stage like this. In the midst of their busiest festival season yet, their machine has never felt better oiled, a solid grounding from which to let their ever-growing complexity shine.
Some bands might find it difficult to compete with the global powerhouse that is Sunday teatime legend Diana Ross on the Pyramid Stage, but in a concise hour, they broadly succeed in bringing a large crowd into their intimate world. They come on stage to the classical strains of Erik Satie’s ‘Gymnopédie No.1’, frontman Grian Chatten swooping Gallagher-esque arms into the air to rabble-rouse momentum. ‘In ár gCroíthe go deo’ starts a little shaky, but they quickly find their stride, both figuratively and literally, with Chatten skipping around his mic stand like a child at a maypole.
With three albums worth of material, they have been able to structure a show that ebbs and flows with cinematic cadence, bolstered today by an impressive string section. The extra instrumentation adds significant gravitas, highlighting both the emotion and growing dexterity of their lyricism.
Even when the extra musicians aren’t onstage, Fontaines keep the crowd right there with them. From the thumping Britpop of ‘Sha Sha Sha’ and ‘Roman Holiday’ to the out-and-out mosh pit grunge of ‘Televised Mind’ – during which one brave soul attempts Russian dancing in the middle of a circle pit – the energy levels stay high. The build of ‘I Love You’ (the highlight of third album ‘Skinty Fia‘) acts as a fulcrum for the entire set, a moment that has the audience screwing up their faces in raw approval. “How’s you?” or “Oh, Glastonbury”, is about as much as we get in terms of banter, but the group feel loose and comfortable; when Chatten mutters ‘youse are really lovely’ before a truly beautiful rendition of ‘the couple across the way’, he appears genuinely quite touched.
While today has allowed the band to show how seamlessly ‘Skinty Fia’ has slotted into their setlist, ‘Boys In The Better Land’ – from 2019’s ‘Dogrel‘ – is still the perfect closer, rabble-rousing while also making their message of homeland pride clear. Topped off by ‘Jackie Down The Line’, this is Fontaines DC, ambassadors of Ireland, doing as they do best. When the songs are this thrilling, you simply cannot fault a band who keep their heads down and get a brilliant job done.
Fontaines DC played:
‘In ár gCroíthe go deo’
‘A Lucid Dream’
‘Sha Sha Sha’
‘The Couple Across The Way’
‘I Love You’
‘A Hero’s Death’
‘Boys In The Better Land’
‘Jackie Down The Line’
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