Up in the Gods at the Academy Brixton, where you feel like you’re ascending to another world, where you’re alone but for the nymphs and tree folk adorning the walls, I swear there was an Irish man, long grey beard, dusty overcoat, flat cap, and he speaks of those he’s seen up here, the great, the good, the bad, the beautiful and he tells me to embrace the chaos and let the noise envelope you.
Down there be flailing limbs and darkness, up here lights dance, sound rises and soars. The man is gone. The noise remains. Onstage five men from Dublin make deafening racket so glorious that it may burst your ear drums on the barrier but up here it engulfs, you can watch the carnival.
Tonight, for Fontaines DC, it all makes sense. Grian has been a coiled spring, Carlos a pacing tiger, as the stage sizes increase they stretch their limbs, their muscles and the show becomes cerebral not just emotional. The poetry is so apparent, incendiary and tonight they are showing off a clutch of new offerings that will no doubt be on the new LP that they have turned around in the blink of an eye. These indicate the new record will be an assault on the senses, a trance inducing repetition, a departure from Dogrel and yet the Dogrel remains.
They break the cardinal rule and open with a new song, ‘A Hero’s Death’, that begins a running thread throughout the new numbers, one of a psychedelic loop, a drone, that builds and becomes hypnotic.
‘Chequeless Reckless’ clatters the doors down and the horse has bolted. The intro’s bending repetitive chord is allowed to repeat and repeat and repeat to the point of breaking the crowd, a trick they pull several times, to wind us up and to test themselves.
The unheard are scattered amongst the older now familiar standards, a gentler section with ‘Television Screens’ and ‘Lotts’ kept apart by only the second outing for ‘I Don’t Belong’, slowly creeping up to a crescendo of earth shuddering proportions. ‘Boys In The Better Land’ precedes ‘Hurricane Laughter’ then ‘Dublin City Sky’ before ‘Liberty Belle’ and finally ‘Big’. A formidable quintet.
In December 2018 they were crammed together on the Lexington stage in North London, Grian still found the room to stalk the stage, in November just last year they were at Kentish Town Forum with tonight’s gig already in their back pocket, and perhaps that played on their mind because tonight had an extra electric intensity, everything was turned up to 11, everyone had been anticipating this moment. For it was a moment, a snap shot where they can leap off from. Look back at the point they walked off stage, embracing, scarcely able to believe they had packed out the legendary Brixton Academy. Bands take years to get here. Fontaines DC have taken a mere 14 months from upstairs in a pub to this. They are the poets on people’s lips, usurping Keats, Shelley and Heaney.
Sitting up in the cloud, it was very real indeed.