The first time Fontaines D.C. played Limerick it was to a few dozen people in Dolan’s Kasbah Social Club, little did we know the meteoric rise that was ahead for them, but they certainly oozed potential, had a collection of deadly tunes, a sound to die for and a frontman you just couldn’t keep your eyes off. Subsequent visits to Limerick (including a Seoda Shows Birthday Party which they curated) has garnered a sizeable and ever-growing Shannonside fanbase who are out in force in an absolutely rammed Milk Market.
Supporting Fontaines D.C. in Limerick as they have throughout their Irish tour is Wunderhorse, and they burst into a full blooded guitar-fueled intro that John Squire would be proud of. More elegant riffs tease the audience as Butterflies takes shape, a guitar blast heralds a primal rhythmic onslaught as mainstay of the band Jacob Slater fatalistically cries “So jump off the bridge and kiss the water”.
A new track definitely has plenty lo-fi Nirvana energy, but Leader of the Pack is the real crowd pleaser, there are certainly plenty of Wunderhorse fans judging by the exuberant reaction – the first singalong moment of a night where there’s plenty of those. Their set is brought to an impressive close with Oprah Winfrey (Is This Love?).
Confidently striding onto the stage to the strains of Petula Clark’s Downtown, Fontaines D.C. are clearly up for it as they plough into an opening salvo of A Hero’s Death which morphs into the heart pounding Lucid Dream, Grian prowls the stage, scanning the crowd, almost goading them to rise to the occasion.
It certainly works as In ár gCroíthe go Deo is treated with spiritual reverence by band and fans alike before it erupts to a stunning climax. While Sha Sha Sha & Television Screens are greeted ecstatically like familiar friends, it’s the new material that really fascinates, Big Shot growls its presence into the wintery sky, while the title track of their latest opus Skinty Fia is a masterfully delivered, fiercely compelling diatribe.
Even by the halfway mark this is already a hugely impressive performance but there’s so much more to come as the full-throated trash-can rap that is Big kicks proceedings up another level. Televised Mind is searingly bestial, Jackie Down the Line conjures a yearning communal dirge, whilst Roman Holiday is imbued with surprisingly anthemic qualities, live it is transformed into something very special indeed.
Drawing the main set to a close is the dark souled maelstrom of Nabakov – an imposing wall of undulating sonic mayhem, which along with Too Real, itself a burning, brooding cacophony, leaves those under the Big Top breathless with the intensity that they’ve just experienced.
And with minimum time for recharging the senses we are treated to a triumphant encore of a sublime Liberty Belle, the raucous belting rock’n’roll that is Boys in the Better Land – both of which turn the congregation into a churning mass of bodies.
That leads to the culmination of the night which sees our talismanic frontman bestride the monitors wailing and pleading his way through I Love You. It’s a truly epic conclusion, a song which secures Fontaines DC position alongside those truly great Irish bands that have tread this road before.
And as stirring a night as this is, the startling thing is that you can be assured that there’s much more to come from a band for whom evolution is their lifeblood. They’ve certainly come a long way since the Kasbah Social Club….
Photos: Fontaines D.C. live in Vicar Street by Stefan Tivodar