Sam Fender at Wembley Arena
Not many acts can fill UK arenas in 2022 like Sam Fender. On the first of two consecutive nights at Wembley Arena, he performs to a packed-out crowd, a testament to his meteoric rise to Brit-rock stardom. It’s not difficult to see how Fender has ascended to such heights. He is equal parts rock star and working-class local hero from Newcastle; the Geordie singer-songwriter that sells out stadiums but still can’t quite believe it. Pointing at his guitarist, “we used to play in a bedroom…” he murmurs in disbelief to the audience before him.
While much can be said about the charisma and forever humble, down-to-earth charm of Fender’s character, it cannot be understated that he’s a performer first and foremost, with a true appreciation for his musical influences, and one that is only too well-equipped with the song-writing chops and vocal talent to back it all up. Bruce Springsteen’s influence, in particular, can be felt in many of the best tracks of the night, from the sax solos in Get You Down and The Borders, set to anthemic, Americana rhythms, to the warped, synthetic guitar sections that cut through each track.
The musician opens the night with We Will Talk, a fan favourite from his first album Hypersonic Missiles, a track that garners a huge reception and is swiftly followed up with Getting Started. There is an energy that arises from the get-go and carries throughout the remainder of his performance, that can either bring the entire arena to its feet with punk-infused, choppy-guitar tracks like Spice, or draw complete silence with the more balladic solo arrangements, such as the piano-driven The Dying Light.
The closing act is an encore of hit-after-hit, bringing the night to an end with Saturday which begins initially as an intimate rendition comprising of Fender, his guitar and the audience on vocals, who in unison chant every lyric while the singer repeats the guitar line to one of his best-loved riffs, before being joined by his band on stage to close out the track. This highlight of the night can only be topped by what immediately follows with Seventeen Going Under which is met with an overwhelming eruption of choral chants of “woah-oh”, before he finally closes with the song “that started it all”: Hypersonic Missiles. Fender, backed by an incredibly diverse and multifaceted band (who perform on brass, keys and even at one stage a mandolin), delivers a truly great performance of stadium rock that never once falters or loses steam. For those that are yet to book tickets for his July show at Finsbury Park – an event that is set to be his biggest show to date – I highly recommend you do so.
Photos: Guifré de Peray
For further information and future events visit Sam Fender’s website here.
Watch the video for the single Seventeen Going Under here: