Grian Chatten doesn’t talk much. For those of us brought up on the tit of hyper celebrity engagement, an environment where our icons every act is sold as part of a voyeuristic branding campaign, it’s a disappointment. He knows one thing however: he knows the power of the song.
Years happen like whirlwinds now to bands on a regular basis – and on that basis Fontaines DC have had a whirlwind year, picking up a Mercury nomination for their first album Dogrel and already selling out 2000 capacity rooms as if the toilet circuit didn’t exist. Written about their adopted home city, Dogrel is an extraordinarily confident piece of work, jumping effortlessly from raw-boned surf rock to post-punk angst, it’s grit-in-the-pearl reflecting a Dublin fast being consigned to history, both verbally and physically.
On stage Chatten is a personification of the album’s inability to stay still, his arms wind milling, slapping himself across the face, smashing the mic stand down into the floor like his worst enemy is directly underneath. He says nothing after bruising opener Hurricane Laughter finishes. It’s the same after Chequeless Reckless, which follows – it’s the same after all of them. The lack of words seems to be a conscious action: maybe it’s because he understands the power of the song, a vessel which, when what the quintet are playing is this good, doesn’t need to be framed by anecdotes about who snores loudest on the tour bus.
No frills or gloves off, call it what you will, but the intensity suits both band and audience, who bounce frantically off each other during the likes of Sha Sha Sha, Too Real and Boys From The Better Land. The energy both given and received is powerful, but some of Dogrel’s peaks are in the balladry of Roy’s Tune, delivered here with an understated tenderness, or Dublin City Sky’s Pogues-indebted waltz.
This economy of expression means that final song Big (Maintaining, there are never encores) rolls around as fast as the unwrapping the last Christmas present, it’s hollered chorus an unwitting nod to both Fontaines DC’s rising status and some older, formative dreams. Their singer departs with a wave and nothing more, but that’s enough. For a man who doesn’t talk much, Grian Chatten still says a great deal.