Fontaines D.C. is well-versed in transmissions of distinct quality. If you cast your mind back to July, we were invited to the evocative setting of former prison Kilmainham Gaol to steal a glimpse of their second record A Hero's Death; we were eager for its entirety. With the album now firmly etched in our conscience, the opportunity arose to view the boys perform virtually on November 23rd, this time at 02 Academy Brixton through Melody VR. From the USA to Italy to the Netherlands, united, we experienced a contemporary feast for the senses.
I myself attended the concert without a headset but being partial to VR and lion cages I can imagine the surreal excellence of becoming the sixth member of D.C. Able to turn full circle, the multiple camera angles initiated you into the clan. It was neatly tailored, with precise planning, and displayed Herculean lighting and graphic design. It looked the part, but also walked the walk, the five sounding tight, but also capturing that live electricity.
A lucid dream can be described where you know you are dreaming, but are asleep; the imagery is so vivid, it seems real. Chosen as the opening track for the show, this acted as an accurate heading for the proceedings. Soaked in a fiery pit of light, guitarist Carlos added flair to the instrumental; each member also donated flashes of adapted arrangements at times. My Hero's favourite Televised Mind came along furnished with its other-worldly magnetism. But then it was time to re-introduce debut LP Dogrel with emerald green hues and crackling old film footage backing Chequeless Reckless.
There were lovely glimpses of tuning, like that unmatched sound of an orchestra preparing, and instrument changes between songs, which occurred before Television Screens. It all exploded with circus-style bulbs, and psychedelic floor patterns of colour to match the ferocious energy of Love Is The Main Thing. Harking back to Nick Cave's footage of stormy palm trees, stunner I Don't Belong looked to the blues of the ocean, I peeped out of the window at that moment and saw the brightest Waxing Gibbous moon looking in on us.
Fluidity and liquidy, oozy sound poured out of the instruments for I Don't Belong, with Conor Deegan III's bass defining the tune. You Said matched the transfixing lava imagery steering us to Oh Such A Spring, which played out like a hotel lounge band and their echoing tones. The mix of the first and second album worked together, hand in hand, and anthem Hurricane Laughter brought frenzied memories of the early days. Tom Coll's 80s power drums led the way for Living In America, its rumbling instrumental reinforced by an orangey scorched desert.
Too Real saw the victorious return of the distortion creating bottle and a slight loss of sound from the microphone, just for a second, followed by a glance from Carlos to Grian, which brought it home that this was a live broadcast, as Chatten's vocal held its sonorous depth for each tune. Sha Sha Sha transpired with the Dogrel cover behind. Normally a crowd sing-along inducer, it provoked memories of where it all began for the Fons, especially playing the riff that started it all in Big; the lyrics are unfolding as their reality. Rollings beats in Liberty Bell completed this portion.
The Hero's Death cover surfaced for the self-titled tune, and the team were in force with the ba, ba, ba, ba, ba backing, pointing to the Pulp Fictionesque Boys In The Better Land, where you could sense the fun. A sweet audience address from Grian made us feel appreciated as we were for them, before not a typical closer of I Was Not Born commenced, where Conor Curley's guitar weaved like the roots of an old tree within the song. I feel it was more the political lyrics, "I was not born, into this world, to do another man's bidding," that needed stressing.
Genuine last words of 'Thank you so much and sincerely' sealed the show. Having been fortunate enough to see the Dublin poets physically live in January, I notice although it never lacked, their confidence has soared, without the loss of any of their charm and ability. Again, like the summer Virgin Money Unity concerts in Newcastle, these occasions are not meant to replace a real fiesta but offers a chance to feel connected with artists in an alternative way. There is no reason why VR concerts should not continue to flourish. However, balance is key; everything crossed as I wish on a slither of that moon's power that we will see Fontaines D.C. once more on their forthcoming tour next Spring.
Article by Beverley Knight