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Review: Sam Fender raises the roof in Newcastle to help raise vital funds for North East Homeless

Few artists have inspired such fervour in recent years as Sam Fender.

Thursday, 26th May 2022, 9:48 am

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His passion for music and connecting through storytelling is infectious, making his gigs a rousing collective experience to remember.

And last night, May 24, he channelled that passion to really make a difference with a charity gig for North East Homeless at Newcastle’s O2 City Hall.

Gigs can be big moneymakers and Sam and his team used this potential to support a vital cause which provides training, support – including food and emergency equipment – and employment for people who are experiencing homelessness, a lifeline charity of which Sam was recently made a patron.

Sam Fender held a charity gig for North East Homeless at O2 City Hall Newcastle. Photos by Josh Bewick Photography for Sunderland Echo.

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Tickets were obtained through a prize ballot draw, for Virgin Media and O2 customers courtesy of Priority from O2, a ballot that saw huge demand with the 875 winners of a pair of tickets each getting to see their hero in a more intimate venue than the much bigger venues he’s capable of selling out.

For the main man it was also the first time he’d played a venue where he used to watch acts himself, back when no one other than his mates knew his name. It made for an electric night.

"I’ve wanted to play this venue since a little boy,” he told the crowd in his North Shields lilt. “It’s a special night for that reason, but also because we’ve raised a f***ing lot of money. North East Homeless is an independent charity, there’s no other involvement apart from the people who work there.”

Despite his huge success, the Brit Award winner has always remained true to his roots, his upbringing and childhood experiences informing much of his music.

Sam Fender put on a blistering set. Photo by Josh Bewick.

As such, wearing NUFC tops and Toon chants has become a real thing with his loyal fans and he didn’t disappoint at the charity gig, arriving on stage in style to the anthemic Local Hero as flag bearers wafted black and white flags over the crowd. Not a track for the Black Cats in the crowd, but as Sam says “it’s about the music, not football.”

What followed was a high octane blistering set of music which has, rightfully so, seen him rocket through the charts. Modern-day anthems such as Spit of You and Get You Down, tracks which seem all the more meaningful when sung back at him by a hometown crowd.

There’s not many gigs where you hear “anyone from Howden?” being shouted from the stage or indeed many artists who can make a track like Howdon Aldi Death Queue.

It was a faultless performance, culminating in a rip-roaring finale of Seventeen Going Under and Hypersonic Missiles, a rare chance to see someone of this calibre up close at a gig with more meaning than most.

Sam Fender welcomed charity founder Brian Burridge on stage. Photo by Josh Bewick.

At the end he brought charity founder Brian Burridge on stage to present a cheque for the proceeds of the gig – a huge £133,000, thanking the fans for their part in the fundraiser.

Not only was it a night of great live music, it’s a reminder to all about the direct impact you can have on your home communities. Sam’s an artist who believes in what he’s feeling – and he makes you feel it too.

The gig raised £133,000 for charity. Photo by Josh Bewick
Much of Sam's music is informed by his childhood. Photo by Josh Bewick.
It was a chance to see a huge artist in a smaller venue Photo by Josh Bewick.
It was the singer / songwriter's debut at a venue he visited as a young boy. Photo by Josh Bewick.
875 fans won the ticket ballot. Photo by Josh Bewick