“There are definitely a couple of disco tracks on there, you know?” Fontaines DC’s Grian Chatten told NME about their the Dublin post-punks’ upcoming third album a few months ago at the BRIT Awards, tongue firmly in cheek. “We’ve got a few ’70s collars in the band, so why not?”
Stranger things have happened. The prospect of Fontaines at the BRITs would once have seemed absurd (they were nominated for Best International Band, and rightly so). When they first emerged just a few years ago, it seemed a stretch that the five-piece would soon be selling out an institution like Ally Pally to a 10,000-strong crowd. And yet here we are.
The groundswell of love behind them is pretty overwhelming, and they’re a band full of surprises. Though they might seem dour, they’re more than capable of pulling off some rockstar moves: Chatten throws roses across the stage and into the howling crowd – a token of reciprocal devotion. And Ally Pally can barely contain the gymnastic moves of guitarist Carlos O’Connell, who nearly windmills out the back door.
As they tear into the title track from their immaculate second album ‘A Hero’s Death’, there’s no doubt they belong on this vast stage. The cacophonous breakdown in ‘A Lucid Dream’ somehow even feels like an arena moment and ‘Living In America’ and ‘Hurricane Laughter’ sound truly biblical when hollered back by thousands. ‘Too Real’ is – perhaps with a touch of irony – marked by the release of dozens of giant eyeball balloons, a move you might more readily associate with a Muse show.
This run of gigs and tonight’s finale were originally intended for last spring, before the pandemic had other plans. It’s been a long wait, and you can feel the crowd’s hunger for Fontaines. There’s little stage banter, besides the odd muttered promise, “This is a good song”, but as ‘Boys In The Better Land’ rings out, it’s clear that they don’t need to say anything to further the sense of community for all who relate to these scrappy lads done good.
Fontaines open their encore by debuting new song ‘I Love You’, a stately and expansive slow-burner; mature post-rock to Chatten’s pure, aching sense of longing. It’s stunning. With ‘Roy’s Tune’, a free-and-easy ode to youth, followed by the machine gun rattle of ‘Liberty Belle’, the band end the biggest gig of their career with an air of knowing that bigger are yet to come.
Tonight made for a great victory lap, but also a tantalising teaser for the greatness that awaits.
Fontaines DC played:
‘A Hero’s Death’
‘A Lucid Dream’
‘Sha Sha Sha’
‘I Don’t Belong’
‘Living in America’
‘Boys in the Better Land’
‘I Love You’