Fontaines DC’s seething Glastonbury set was a healing balm for a fractured society (and fucking good fun)

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Sweaty! Punky! Rowdy!

“If I didn’t know any better I’d assume this was the Sauna Tent,” a woman near NME says ahead of Dublin punks Fontaines DC’s Williams Green set. Look, there are only so many ways you can say it’s hot at this year’s Glastonbury (and Lord knows we’ve tried) but – fuck me – it’s hot at this year’s Glastonbury. Hotter than an otter’s pocket in a day spa jacuzzi. Hotter than a priest’s trouser leg during a particularly revealing confession. It’s hot, you know?

And much more so when the band rack up the tension by having a dramatic reading of Irish writer Luke Kelly’s poem For What Died the Sons of Roisin, a lament for the Irish Republic, play out over the speakers instead of walk-on music. They open with ‘Hurricane Laughter’, taken from this year’s seething, five-star debut ‘Dogrel’, frontman Grian Chatten twitching on the spot as he grips the microphone stand.

Once he starts singing, though, he’s entirely still, a model of frustration and restraint, the rage appearing the boil inside of him. It’s an uncanny performance that helps to make this such a charged, compelling set. His self-contained anger is offset by the audience, who roar through ‘Too Real’ (“I’m about to make a lot of money!”), which is when things start to really, really go off.

Fontaines DC Glastonbury 2019

We’ve joked before about Fontaines’ dedicated fan base of ‘6 Music da’s’, men of a certain age who lap up the new wave of macho yet sensitive alternative rock (epitomised, of course, by Bristol fun punks Idles) and the da’s are out in force today, bellowing along to lines such as “If you’re a rock star, porn star, superstar/ Doesn’t matter what you are, get yourself a good car and Get outta here” from ‘Boys In The Better Land’. One slurps heartily from a box of red wine at the precise moment that topless guitarist Carlos O’Connell does exactly the same. The audience spills out of the tent, packed tight even out at the field.

O’Connell, who gobs out into the crowd – punk’s not dead but still dead naughty – spots someone with a Republic of Ireland flag. “This next one’s for you,” he promises, before the band batters through ‘Big’, their anthem of ambition, transcendence. “My childhood was small,” sneers Chatten, “but I’m gonna be big.” Fontaines are about non-toxic patriotism and the desire to be better. Like Idles, they’ve helped fans to exorcise their sadness at societal divides. It’s healing. Also: the’ve got fucking great tunes.