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Fontaines D.C. live in London: furious intensity from 2019’s best new guitar band

London, Kentish Town Forum, November 27, 2019

Almost a year ago to the day, Fontaines D.C. played the Forum in support of Shame, a band they’ve swiftly overtaken as guitar music’s shiniest new hope. Fuelled by their poetic, furious debut album ‘Dogrel’, the Dublin five-piece are now on an unstoppable trajectory, and tonight’s blistering show serves as another step on their path to truly huge things.

This 2,000 capacity Kentish Town Forum gig might have sold out back in May but by the start of August, they’d booked another at the 5,000 cap Brixton Academy for February 2020. This show then feels surprisingly intimate, kind of like the band are playing catch-up to their ambition and growing popularity.

Not that we’re complaining. When most bands get to the level that Fontaines are currently operating on, a whole carnival of bells and whistles are added to the live set, artists’ eyes widening at the prospect of new toys to play with. Fontaines’ power though has always come from their simplicity and grit and currently they’re not messing with their fittingly lowkey formula.

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Frontman Grian Chatten barely utters a word between songs all evening, except to bluntly declare that they’re not a band to do encores, before they close with ‘Big’. Instead he does all his talking through devil-eyed stares into the corneas of the front row, and through his bleakly romantic tales of the Irish capital.

‘Dogrel’ is performed impeccably and in its entirety, while new songs ‘Televised Mind’ and ‘Lucid Dream’ hint at a creepier, tenser expansion for album two, the tracks stretched out until they become transcendent.

Though they’ve never been your archetypal, balls-out rockstars, it’s hard to imagine a time when ‘Too Real’ and ‘Boys In The Better Land’ weren’t belted out from the floor like anthems in the way they are in the Forum. From middle-aged dads reinvigorated by the emergence of IDLES to lad-rock fans eager to throw themselves into the pit, the crowd is a particularly blokey one for sure, but everyone here is united in their passion for these powerful, prescient tunes.  

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When Chatten declared “my childhood was small, but I’m gonna be big” on ‘Big’, a song released when the band were still on the toilet circuit, it felt like a plucky wish. Tonight, in front of fired-up, fiercely devoted converts, it seems like he’s purely flexing his muscles.

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