At the second of three hometown gigs in Vicar Street, kicking off an Irish tour which closes another stellar year for the five-piece (unfortunately, the tour omits Cork), Grian Chatten only says two things to the audience: A hello comes halfway through and “This is gonna be our last song,” precedes I Love You. Indeed for much of the setlist, he doesn’t need to even sing as the lyrics are bellowed back at him by an enthralled audience.
Whether the personal defiance of Televised Mind off Grammy Award-nominated album A Hero’s Death (“Now you don’t care what they say”) or the more obvious adrenaline shots of Boys in the Better Land and the snappy Big (“My childhood was small but I’m gonna be big”), it’s clear just how much Chatten’s words mean to people. From the start, friends are on each other’s shoulders whipping their shirts around their heads, crowdsurfers quickly appear and disappear. It feels revelatory.
Chatten, still only in his mid-twenties, has grown into the frontman role since the band formed in 2017, a rapid rise that was barely disrupted by the pandemic. The early shows were full of nervous tics but his display at Vicar Street is mesmerising.
He implores the crowd to give more - even when there’s already mosh pits circling. He paces the stage throughout and throws himself at the mic for the choruses, just about holding back from jumping into the front rows. He takes a bow at the end of the murky Skinty Fia and stands tall and proud on the monitor for an uncoiled Too Real.
While his voice might be an acquired taste (indeed, he sounds a little out of tune on Oh Such a Spring) his presence is undeniable - and his lyrics are worthy of adulation. On the aforementioned I Love You, his rapid shouts hit out at “the gall of Fine Gael and the fail of Fianna Fáil” while “the man who profits and the bastard walks by”. What can we say, it resonates at a time when myriad housing and homelessness crises show no sign of abating.
After a festival-filled summer, Fontaines DC took third album Skinty Fia out for US and UK tours - they’ve also been announced as support to Arctic Monkeys on their North American arena jaunt in 2023 - and look finely honed.
That album’s opener, In ár gCroíthe go Deo, with pulsing bassline and ghostly backing vocals from Carlos O'Connell, Conor Curley, and Conor Deegan, builds into effervescent release, Chatten’s cries piercing through as he wrestles with his mic stand. It’s the highlight of a show packed full of them.
Old favourite Liberty Belle is a pleasant surprise for the Dublin crowd, but Skinty Fia is undoubtedly their best work to date and they play all bar three songs from it on Thursday. The Stone Roses flecks of Roman Holiday and Gallagher sneer in Nabokov show Fontaines DC’s influences but they’re forging their own path. They still haven’t put a step wrong. Fontaines DC are a band to pin your hopes on.