The young Dublin quintet have had a triumphant rise, with their third album Skinty Fia released this year reaching number one, a ferocious Glastonbury set and winning the NME award for ‘Best Band in the World’.
True to form, his response to winning the award was a succinct “about time.” With a sold-out 3-night run at the Hammersmith Apollo, they prove that this wasn’t just bravado, and that they’ve risen to the top without losing any of their chaotic charm.
Launching into their set with A Hero’s Death, it was clear the stewards would have their hands full with the surfers tonight as the crowd came forward to greet their heroes.
Ireland is never far away, both on stage, with a giant tricolor flag on the loudspeaker, and in the lyrics and heavily accented, slurred vocals of singer Grian Chatten.
Grian isn’t a traditional frontman, with just a perfunctory “Cheers” to the audience, staggering across the stage in his oversized T-shirt and combat pants, but he’s a fascinating figure nonetheless, giving off baggy Ian Brown vibes when he shakes his tambourine.
The band’s poetic lyrics are spit out at high speed, rattling through the set with hardly a breather. Skinty Fia is a highlight, referring to an Irish phrase that translates to “The Doom of the Deer.”
The album cover features an Irish red deer, an extinct species that seems lost in the artificial red glow of a hallway, a powerful representation of the band’s complex relationship with their Irish identity.
A short break before the encore gives the crowd a chance to catch their breath, while the Fontaines band name “Dublin City” glowed in the colors of the Irish flag above the stage.
Boys in the Better Land from their first album Dogrel once again shakes the Apollo with the crowd singing “With a face like sin and a heart like a James Joyce novel”, a song written about Grian’s chance encounter with an Anglophobic taxi driver from Dublin.
Set closer to I Love You shows the band at their best complex, with their uncharacteristically pessimistic and optimistic “If I must have a future, I want it with you” tone. The future is bright for these guys.
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