Flags out for Sam Fender on Newcastle homecoming: a review from the Utilita Arena

The Toon flags were raised high for local hero Sam Fender, who kicked off his Seventeen Going Under tour at the sold-out Utilita Arena last night.

After a two-year delay due to Covid-19, Fender and his backing band (all wearing Newcastle United shirts) provided audiences with a 15-track set.

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The Geordie-born singer had no shortage of tracks to choose from. Will We Talk? opened the set, leading into early track Getting Started.

An impromptu two-track long mosh pit, instigated by Fender, saw the crowd carefully and quickly throw themselves around for Spice and Howdon Aldi Death Queue.

Fender said: “I want to see what we can do mosh pit wise for the next two songs. If anyone goes down, pick them back up. If anyone gans’ down, let me know.

“We’ve got two songs to go crazy and then we’ll calm the f*ck down again.”

New singles Get You Down, Seventeen Going Under and Spit of You marked the end of an exciting and varied setlist.

It was an electric atmosphere. Chants of “Toon, Toon, Black and White army” were frequent, and the pride Fender has for his hometown was apparent, with banners and flags with the NUFC badge flying high.

The crowd were up for it, and so were the band. Fender said: “I can’t tell you how long this has been coming. We’ve been dying to play this gig for so long. I can’t even believe it.”

Confetti cannons, black and white flags and a crowd-pleasing rendition of Hypersonic Missiles closed the show.

Despite the scope of the arena and the size of the name on stage, Fender did an excellent job in making this a homely, personal gig for his hometown crowd.

An emotive show not just for those returning to live music, but the artist on stage too.

Fender said: “This is the maddest day of our lives so thank you so much for turning up and being a part of it. I think it’s starting to sink in.

“Me minds just turned into lasagne. Got pure lasagne brain.”

Fender’s lasagne brain rattled through a cover of Dancing in the Dark, clarifying the Bruce Springsteen influences even further.

The Seventeen Going Under tour continues to Alexandra Palace in London on 20 November.