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Live review - Fontaines DC go Baltic in Latvia and Lithuania

Updated: Jun 19

Julia Mason (aka The Decibel Decoder) is hot on the Fontaines DC trail and brings us her review of their latest live show

 

Fontaines DC live in Riga Latvia
All photo credits Julia Mason

With Fontaines D.C. touring with the Arctic Monkeys across the States last year, it has been 18 months since I last saw them play - at Galway's Leisureland 3 December 2022.


The band announced a string of dates in European countries they hadn't played before for early this summer, filling in the gaps between festival appearances. And all of this scheduled before the news of their fourth album Romance was confirmed, set for release on 23 August on XL Recordings.


The current run of dates began at Bergenhus Festival in Norway and Sideways festival in Helsinki, Finland. Thanks to Ryanair and a direct flight from Edinburgh, I found myself heading to Riga in Latvia for the third show of this run, at the Palladium. It was the first of their own headline gigs.


From the outside the venue looked inauspicious, set down a side road in a quieter part of town. A pre-gig meet up with people from the bands Facebook fan group 'What's Really Going On' was fun as, of course, everyone was buzzing. With no idea about queuing etiquette in Latvia we arrived about 20 mins before the doors open, with only about 15 people in front of us. The venue is a converted cinema with capacity around 1.8k and 3 levels. Surprisingly this gig was not sold out, and with UK venues for November's tour now at 12k+ capacity it was an ideal opportunity to see them in a smaller room.


The support was Polifauna, a Latvian band who describe themselves as space pop. While the 5-piece didn't quite have the energy for a Fontaines D.C. crowd, it was good to see the platform being given to a local band.


The band now find themselves in the unenviable situation of what to play in a set, with three successful albums under their belt. This show opened with Romance the title track of their forthcoming album. Guitarist Curley began in bassist Deego's normal spot with Deego at keyboards further back. Lead singer Grian then came on as his singing part started, joining the rest of the band. And we were off....



What followed was an euphoric hour of exhilarating music. The set was sprinkled with tracks from all three albums. I do suspect this is a band who will never forget their roots. Too Real and Big back to back from debut album Dogrel are still thrilling after five years. Fontaines D.C. are joined on these dates by Chilli Jesson and the additional guitar and keyboards only adds to their already expansive sound. However it is Skinty Fia that really pulled in the younger fan base they now have. Jackie Down the Line, Nabokov and Big Shot were included in the main set, which ended on Boys in the Better Land. I was gutted it was over and thank heavens this band now does encores. Coming back on, throwing roses into the crowd, we were treated to three more songs: Skinty Fia, I Love You and the extraordinary Starburster, the first single released from Romance. It opens with Carlos' synth part and made for a tumultuous end to the gig.


They may not mosh in this part of the world, but the Latvian crowd demonstrated their obvious love for this band, further evidenced by the queue at the merch desk. Heading out of the venue the excitement was palpable. For us there was a trip back to the pub for a post-gig debrief, and an opportunity to reflect on a wonderful night with this extraordinary band.


For me, next stop Vilnius in Lithuania the following night - to do it all again.

 

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