Review: Fontaines D.C. Live in Vancouver

Fontaines D.C. and Just Mustard In Vancouver B.C. live review from their May 23, 2022 show by Martin Alldred
Fontaines D.C. and Just Mustard In Vancouver B.C. live review from their May 23, 2022 show by Martin Alldred

Friday Night with the Fontaines D.C. and Just Mustard at the Rickshaw Theatre I’m at the Rickshaw Theatre in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside for only the third time in over 2 years and the first time since the pandemic without mandatory sitting and masks. It feels like some great milestone, I almost expect to see a 2001 Space Odyssey style monolith outside when I leave, to signify an evolutionary step forward in COVID’s pandemic lifecycle. Returning to the gig venues that you frequented so regularly before March 2020 is always a thing of beauty, the dimmed light, the immersive sound, the stale smell of beer and the sweaty atmosphere, getting mildly crushed down the front, these things all remind you what was missing for over 2 years. It’s a Friday night and it seems most people feel the same euphoria as me, the euphoria of being back at a live sold out show – no enforced seating, no limits to capacity, no restrictions on dancing.

Just Mustard are supporting. Often at these smaller 500-600 capacity venues the support is a local band or someone you don’t hear of again. But Just Mustard are a band that you’d expect to be touring similar size venues as the headliner in the not too distant future. They sound great and are very, very loud – I wasn’t expecting My Bloody Valentine sound levels, my ears were in pain. It isn’t easy to keep that slow, shoegaze style of music interesting, but they manage it no problem. Deaf, with its echoey bass line, is even more atmospheric live as it is on record with the haunting vocals of Katie Ball on Frank are beautiful.

By the time the Fontaines come on, the place is packed, we’re like sardines. You can sense the anticipation from the crowd. They don’t disappoint, the big tunes sound massive – Hurricane Laughter, A Hero’s Death, Televised Minds – and new songs like Jackie Down the Line (the short one song encore) and I Love You sound new and fresh, but the crowd are just as raucous. They play Sha Sha Sha, everyone sings along and pogoes, a song the fans never tyre of (sorry couldn’t resist). Chequeless Reckless comes on and the show goes up an extra notch, to the point where the band stop the song and tell some people to stop fighting *.

Grian performs with the intensity of a man possessed. It reminds me of the way Ian Curtis would lose himself in the music and Liam Gallagher’s swagger. As always with the Fontaines D.C., it doesn’t feel forced or false, it feels real, but not Too Real.

A fantastic gig, all in all. Just Mustard were really good and Fontaines were magnificent.

Words by Martin Alldred