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In less than twelve months, North Shields singer-songwriter Sam Fender has travelled far, not least down the road from headlining Electric Brixton at the end of February to a sold out night at O2 Academy Brixton in early December. Far from content with this accolade, Fender now prepares for a 2020 that sees him headline consecutive nights at London’s Alexandra Palace, perform in arenas across the country, play Scotland’s TRNSMT Festival and join The Killers at their huge Emirates Stadium show.
UPDATE: Sam Fender was sadly forced to reschedule his second headline show at O2 Academy Brixton, and select future dates, due to illness. Get well soon Sam.
Fender, who also released his Hypersonic Missles debut earlier this year, has clearly captured hearts across the United Kingdom. O2 Academy Brixton, a right of passage for many across the years, is filled with a notably mismatched audience. It’s testament to the musicians impossibility to be pigeonholed, drawing influence from stalwarts far beyond his years, and blending comparably radio-friendly indie-rock with saxophone-led bluesy melodies. His self-professed favourite, The Borders, captures this duality best; an expansive and transportive five-minutes-plus that owes an unashamed debt to Bruce Springsteen, yet one that carries the northern bravado that Sam effortlessly embodies.
It’s this ability to surprise that has brought Fender to this point. There’s a maturity in both his sound and his live performance that pushes out of the standard indie confines. Not only able to finish a triumphant set with a cover of Springsteen’s Dancing In The Dark – a song he has seemingly reintroduced to an unsuspecting generation – he also has something genuine to say. Dead Boys, a set highlight and an album standout, exposes toxic masculinity and male suicide. At another moment his cartooned backdrop depicts demonised versions of powerful world leaders. Sam, himself previously reliant on the benefit system, is an advocate of change.
And he has the musicality to make people listen. A solo, spine-tingling rendition of Leave Fast encourages celebratory comparisons to the late Jeff Buckley, and the rousing Play God showcases his immaculate vocals. During Saturday, Fender takes a step back from the microphone to encourage the audience to join in, and they respond with pure joy. As he spends much of the encore stood alone on the Brixton stage, it’s easy to see that festival headline slots are looming. Sam Fender may have travelled far in 2019, but the journey has only just begun.
Sam Fender has confirmed the following live appearances in 2020:
30 January 2020 – O2 Academy, Birmingham
31 January 2020 – O2 Academy, Bristol
20 March 2020 – O2 Victoria Warehouse, Manchester
21 March 2020 – O2 Victoria Warehouse, Manchester
23 March 2020 – Barrowland, Glasgow
24 March 2020 – Barrowland, Glasgow
26 March 2020 – Alexandra Palace, London
27 March 2020 – Alexandra Palace, London
30 March 2020 – De Montfort Hall, Leicester
31 March 2020 – Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff
2 April 2020 – First Direct Arena, Leeds
3 April 2020 – Utilita Arena, Newcastle
5 June 2020 – Emirates Stadium, London (supporting The Killers)
6 June 2020 – Emirates Stadium, London (supporting The Killers)
16 June 2020 – Malahide Castle, Co. Dublin (supporting The Killers)
17 June 2020 – Malahide Castle, Co. Dublin (supporting The Killers)
10 July 2020 – TRNSMT Festival, Glasgow
Remaining tickets for Sam Fender dates and festival appearances are available now through Ticketmaster.co.uk.