Fontaines D.C. at O2 Academy, Liverpool (20 November ’19)


The anticipation was almost tangible for one of the most eagerly-anticipated gigs of the year in town, and certainly one I’d long circled as a potential classic, as Dublin’s Fontaines D.C. came to the O2 Academy, with support coming from Warm Drag.

I got in before the first act came on, with the DJ spinning some fine tunes from the likes of Johnny Cash and Buffalo Springfield, which didn’t exactly fit with the overall vibe of the evening, but were welcome nonetheless.

I can’t name any of the tracks played by Warm Drag I’m afraid, who started off strongly to my ears, with their opening number sounding like a mix of Spacemen 3 and especially Suicide fronted by Vashti Windish, a cross between Patti Smith and Patricia Morrison from The Gun Club and The Sisters Of Mercy, whom I’ve just discovered is married to Dave Vanian from The Damned, and was briefly a member of that outfit too!

Warm Drag

Making all the racket to the side of the stage was Paul Quattrone, currently also drummer with the mighty Thee Oh Sees and previously with !!!, both of whom I own records by, but not ones which feature Quattrone.

Vashti Windish

However, subsequent songs were less inspiring, as I got hints of Add N To (X) and a darker version of Sigue Sigue Sputnik – though that’s not actually an insult.

I believe that Windish introduced their third number as their last song, but it certainly wasn’t, so perhaps I just misheard.

There was time for some more great between-band music including Lee Hazlewood & Nancy Sinatra’s classic Some Velvet Morning and Bob Dylan’s Queen Jane Approximately.

It was then time for Fontaines D.C. who stepped onto stage to what sounded like a Bing Crosby song, but sadly not one I’ve been able to identify.

They hit us with a killer opener in the shape of Hurricane Laughter with its shards of guitar from Carlos O’Connell and Conor Curley.

Fontaines D.C.

Singer Grian Chatten stalked the stage, slamming his mike stand repeatedly, which surely must have been the worse for wear by the end of the evening.

Their debut album Dogrel was released last April, wowing the critics instantly, so much so that it has recently been named as album of the year by both Rough Trade and BBC 6 Music. It won’t be my number one, but is destined to be in the Top 5.

Grian Chatten and Conor Deegan

I can certainly hear The Fall in their sound, as if they were fronted by Liam Gallagher. Another band that really came to mind on the night (and had me reaching for their old records in subsequent days) were Cathal Coughlan’s The Fatima Mansions – and not just for the clichéd reason that they too were Irish.

As a pointless aside, bassist Conor Deegan reminded me of my mate Slappy, with drummer Tom Coll completing the line-up.

The set continued in fine fashion with Chequeless Reckless the second number, before the first of two new songs, both of which sounded promising, without threatening to match the appeal of Dogrel’s finest moments on first listen.

Conor Curley and Grian Chatten

Too Real was probably the intense highlight for me, complete with guitars that sounded like clanging fighter planes.

“The city in its final dress. And now a gusty shower wraps the grimy scraps of withered leaves all about your feet.”

Set-list (photo stolen off Peter Guy)

After a sublime Boys In The Better Land, Chatten finally broke his silence with the pithy “thanks very much”.

I’m not the first person to hear The Pogues in Dublin City Sky, with the set then ending with Big. And then they were off, nary to return. Never mind “Dublin in the rain”, but Liverpool was theirs this night as well.

So the only track off the album not to get an airing was The Lotts. They had pretty much lived up to the pre-gig hype, but it will be really interesting to hear if a sophomore release can match the quality (if not impact) of Dogrel.

There were a fair few people I knew also in attendance at this show (with a nice early finish!), but I didn’t managed to spot anyone.

Tonight’s t-shirt

I decided to wear a pale blue Fall t-shirt, with there being a fair few Fontaines D.C. ones in evidence. The only other band tees I spotted were Blondie’s Clem Burke and Spiritualized.

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Here is much of the music from the show on Spotify:

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