Explore Issue 01 of LOOP Magazine

Featuring Sam Tompkins and Victor Ray as our cover stars, as well as internal spreads from Girli, Jords, Mysie, Finn Askew, Kara Marni and Master Peace

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Sam Fender at Wembley Arena

Sam Fender has been hailed a household name over the past few years. Following the success of his most recent album, ‘Seventeen Going Under’ released last year, he hit Wembley’s stage on Saturday as part of his eleven date UK tour.

Fender has evolved from the somewhat underground artist we’d previously known pre-covid. And this show at Wembley, his largest headline date so far, is a perfect display of that journey.

Raised in North Shields where he was a regular punter and performer at the Low Lights Tavern, the stage at Wembley Arena is a far cry from those days in his dimly lit, yet fondly loved local. In 2019, he became the recipient of the Brits Critics Choice Award (formerly won by artists like Adele, Celeste and Sam Smith) and most recently, Best British Alternative/Rock Act. With these accolades now under his belt, his success certainly warrants a tour on such a scale as this.

Crashing onto stage with his seven-piece band, ‘Will We Talk’ from his number one debut album ‘Hypersonic Missiles’ flew out the gate with power. The sea of fans, many wearing Sam’s Newcastle Brown Ale merchandise surged forward towards the action, pints raised to the smoky skies of the twelve thousand capacity arena.

Moments like these couldn’t even be imagined a mere year ago. Sam has faced many re-scheduled dates due to illness and Covid restrictions over the last eighteen months. But watching people unite around an artist so dear to the hearts of many was a beautiful reminder of the power of live music. His touching track ‘Dead Boys’, dedicated to a former friend who took his own life never ceases to garner great reaction from the crowd. Coupled with poignant visuals of a blacked-out silhouette painted over images his hometown, this track remains a favourite amongst fans four years on from its initial release.

Whilst other fan favourites including ‘Friday Fighting’, ‘Poundshop Kardashians’ and ‘Millenial’ were neglected from the setlist, Sam certainly managed to pack a punch with the sixteen tracks he did deliver.

But a cross over many never knew they needed was a cameo performance from TitTok’s trainspotting hero, Francis Bourgeouis. Taking to the stage on a scooter with go-pro strapped to his head, the footage made for humorous viewing as it played out on the two side-stage screens. Careening around behind Sam and the band, Francis even dropped a tail whip before exiting the stage. It was a moment certainly made unforgettable through Francis and Sam’s friendship, which even mid song, was visible through laughter and on-stage banter. Amongst the guttural bass of later track, ‘Spice’, Francis joined fans in the front rows to crowd surf this prestigious arena. “You’re fucking mental you are,” Sam laughed to Francis as he leapt into the crowd. Go Pro attached, of course.

And for those further back in the crowd, Sam encouraged moshing to two of his heavier tracks (safely of course). “[If] Someone goes down pick ’em back up. If there’s any issues let me know. If we have to start again, we fucking will.”, he called out over the microphone in warning. Thankfully he did, as after a short reprieve in ‘Spice’ due to fans at the barrier being pushed in the surge, ‘Howdon Aldi Death Queue’ saw several mosh pockets open up across the floor.

Saving his greatest hits for last, it was an opportunity for fans to see Sam truly performing at full pelt. Exiting the stage for his encore, a climatic call for aptly titled track ‘Saturday‘ rang through the arena. Chanting the lyrics to its chorus, lights emerged amongst the crowd as fans took this moment to capture the unity of this long-awaited moment. Sam emerged a few minutes later to join the crowd’s call, working the left, right, front and back of the room before hurling into the three-minute-long track. It’s a track that in my mind, has always warranted and deserved a festival-style performance. Working in partnership, Sam, his band and the crowd certainly delivered on that basis.

And with the evening’s final track ‘Hypersonic Missiles’, fans were ready to share one last moment with the much-loved Geordie rocker. Showered in confetti and with remnants of previously thrown pints seeping into every fibre of their clothes, fans delivered a stellar performance that could only match the levels of that being performed by Sam and the band themselves.

Even as the lights came up in the venue and fans began to pour out onto the streets of Northwest London, the ringing sounds of Sam’s hits could still be heard. A long-awaited evening with Sam Fender could not have been any more fulfilling.

Catch him at his upcoming Finsbury Park performance alongside artists like Beabadoobee, Fontaines DC, Declan McKenna and Goat Girl on Friday 15th July. Tickets available here.

Words by Issy Aldridge

Posted On 3 October, 2022