Live Report: Fontaines D.C. – The Complex, Dublin

A special St. Patrick's Day event powered by Jameson...

An event within an event, as an annual celebration of culture, St. Patrick’s Day is a suitable context for hosting a rare Fontaines D.C. performance.

The event is also a manifestation of sorts, it shows just far the quintet has come. At this point, a more obvious, but less interesting, thing to do may have been to play the biggest venue they could have got their hands on, and use it as a base for playing and recording the streamed concert, but the choice of The Complex is just right.

The execution plays to every single strength of Fontaines D.C. Intimate and personal, the performance shows their experience and know how. While tonight’s fourteen track setlist includes songs from across the board, six are taken from the second album ‘A Hero’s Death’, and five come from their debut ‘Dogrel’. Also featured are two songs from the band’s third album, the incoming, highly anticipated ‘Skinty Fia’, as well as one cover.

When frontman and singer Grian Chatten appears on stage, he walks straight to its front, where he greets and engages with the crowd. This is a global stream, so it is also for an international audience, but first and foremost, the band are playing to a home crowd. It makes tonight feel more like a standalone event, and the singer looks moved and emotional because of the joyous reception, they are receiving.

– – –

– – –

Chatten’s presence onstage is always absorbing, this gig reveals a more dramatic side of him, it is a fierce boldness. Another thing to note is how freely he moves about, and how smooth he makes every aspect of the performance look. The twitch is still there, over time this twitch seems to have conveyed hints of awkwardness and nerves, and combined everything is delivered with genuine confidence, and the crowd responds with passion, they clearly love it.

The distinct, hypnotic atmosphere in their music has been a powerful, recognisable trait from early days, and it continues to make the song material stand out. The effect it has is one of immersion, it is dreamy, encouraging a free flow of imagination and thought. During this show, it becomes particularly prominent on songs such as ‘Televised Mind’, ‘A Lucid Dream’, and ‘Hurricane Laughter’, but is also traceable in songs of a slower pace like ‘I Don’t Belong’.

The ability – and dedication – to hold on to what’s authentic is a gift of theirs, however. As much as it can seem unnecessary to even mention it, it is still worth highlighting, because it genuinely is how the band come across, and how they present themselves.

The delivery of ‘I Love You’ offers a charming divergence in sentiment. A lyrical excerpt from the song is “It’s all I’ve ever felt/I’ve never felt so well/And if you don’t know it I wrote you this tune/To be here loving you when I’m in the tomb/I’ve eddied the heart now from Dublin to Paris/And if there was sunshine – it was never on me/So close the rain, so pronounced is the pain”. It is a captivating way to show how a part of band’s uniqueness is to be found somewhere between poetic lyrics and pure melody.

“I was not born Into this world to do another man's bidding”, Chatten declares on ‘I Was Not Born’. A fact that remains is that songs like this, together with ‘Boys In the Better Land’, and ‘Big’ are providers of statements, which is useful in more homely surroundings, but they are also effective means for the initiation of mosh pits, and the crowds are more than happy to indulge.

– – –

– – –

Staying true to sound of the original version, the cover of The Cure’s ‘Just Like Heaven’ is still special. Starting with soft vocals and the sound of a quiet guitar, the cover gets built from that point. Perhaps, it also goes some way to show that the Crawley band quite possibly are a significant influence.

The experience of getting closer to the world’s favourite rock and roll band, and the feeling of properly getting to know what they are about, is quite comparable to connecting with real life. It is not just about beauty, it is more colourful than that. It can be gritty, and then there’s the literature and language of everyman, there’s intellect and emotion. It all counts, and the band portray life in their own wonderful, poetic way, with songs that sound different, but stir recognition and identification.

This show is the perfect way to share and soundtrack a big day in Ireland’s calendar – domestically and internationally – Fontaines D.C.’s live performance is a historic concert experience, one that deserves to be remembered in the years to come.

– – –

Words: Susan Hansen

– – –

Join the Clash mailing list for up to the minute music, fashion and film news.