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Tearing Down the Plaster – Fontaines D.C. @ Gorilla, Manchester

Standing in the queue which spanned around the block, I felt seventeen again, naively turning up five hours too early, but I hadn’t… the doors were already open. Coupled with their next Manchester gig being held over the road in the 1,500 capacity Ritz, this was a definite indication of Fontaines D.C.’s growing popularity. Surrounded by a community of characters, all anticipating the evening’s sold out show, the band is definitely true to their word… ‘I’m gonna be big!’

Just Mustard kicked off the night, a five piece from Dundalk in Ireland; they’ve been main support throughout the tour so far, and you could see why. Starting with a driving drum beat that crashed into the wall of sound the guitars made, Katie’s vocals appear like the eerie, soothing whispers of a haunted forest, complementing the atmospheric resonance which now fills the room.

There were undertones of the Cocteau Twins on display, but this was by no means a carbon copy. In one song bassist Rob flips between the extremes of his volume knob, using the intermittent sound of the distortion to create melodies. The harmony of Katie’s endearing vocals and David’s baritone unconventionally works wonderfully in unison. With a new album out next month, these are certainly ones I’ll be keeping a close eye on.

When ‘Boys from the Country Hell’ by The Pogues came on everyone knew it was time. The whole room singing along, you couldn’t wipe the smiles off people’s faces. The Dublin based quintet began with their second single ‘Hurricane Laughter’. Whilst the intro was building, singer Grian paced around, head down, punching the air like he was psyching himself up for a boxing match.  At this point the crowd was in overdrive, a mosh pit half the size of Gorilla was already in full swing.

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‘Sha Sha Sha’ and ‘Checkless Reckless’ were next, elating the over excitable audience even more. The simple, but subtly intricate style, paired with the iconic vocals, means their sound is that of modern nostalgia. ‘The Lotts’, ‘Television Screens’ and their latest single ‘Roy’s Tune’ slowed the set down a little, enough for us all to get a breather. This captured the room; absorbed by the performance. That was until ‘Liberty Belle’ started, their debut release and what I named my first horse after in Red Dead Redemption Two. The opening lyrics created a stampede to the front, feet not even touching the floor anymore.

With a longer introduction than usual after a small tussle for the microphone with an eager spectator, ‘Too Real’ almost made the room burst. Eyes closed, arms stretched out, serenading the band, the atmosphere almost overwhelming. ‘Boys in the Better Land’ was the last of this power trio. A real upbeat, bouncy number, both on and off stage everyone was dripping with sweat, no one willing to let up.

The last two songs funnily enough are their longest and shortest respectfully. ‘Dublin City Sky’ is a lovely ode to the bands heritage, simply beautiful. Whereas ‘Big’ could be seen as a metaphor for their show; short, powerful and poetic. With some of their music taking influence from Manchester’s home grown talent (Joy Division springs to mind) you can see why FontainesD.C. were so well received, something that you could tell meant a lot to them.

📸 Photos by Matt Parry