WHAT a whirlwind three years it has been for Sam Fender. After releasing his second album ‘Seventeen Going Under’ last year to critical acclaim, following his ground-breaking debut record ‘Hypersonic Missiles’ in 2019, wall to wall touring has called since then.

Whether it’s his emotional and poignant lyrics or his powerful vocals – backed up by a strong line-up of saxophones, guitars, and drums, he seems to wow crowds wherever he goes.

And last night was no different. Taking to the stage at a rousing homecoming gig at O2 City Hall Newcastle, the Geordie singer/songwriter was on form right from the start, and so were the crowd.

Read more: Sam Fender shouts out North East Homeless charity in Brit Award speech

Newcastle United football shirts and flags adorned the historic city hall, and for a second, you would have thought you were in St James’ Park on any given Saturday, rather than a 2,600 capacity venue, especially with the constant shouts of ‘toon’.

Since opening in 1927, the city hall has welcomed a ‘who’s who’ of musical talent, many of whom are Fender’s heroes. From Lindisfarne to David Bowie, and from Motorhead to The Animals, all of them have played it, but the 28-year-old singer from North Shields shouldn’t feel undeserving of inclusion in that line-up.

After launching into hits ‘Will We Talk?, ‘Dead Boys’ and ‘The Borders’ early on in the setlist from debut album ‘Hypersonic Missiles’, the Newcastle-based singer was hellbent on sending the crowd into a frenzy with ‘Spice’ and ‘Howdon Aldi Death Queue’.

The Northern Echo: The gig was in support of North East Homeless - a charity that Sam is a patron of. Picture: PATRICK GOULDSBROUGH.The gig was in support of North East Homeless - a charity that Sam is a patron of. Picture: PATRICK GOULDSBROUGH.

While the musical talent was on full display, the event was about more than just entertainment.

The gig was put on in support of North East Homeless; a charity that is close to Sam’s heart, having become a patron of the charity earlier in 2022 and championing them through the years.

Addressing the crowd last night, Fender said of the charity: “Everyone that works there is an absolute angel. They are a charity that gives back and doesn’t take a slice of the profits – they’re for the people of the North East.”

Money was raised on the evening through a ticket ballot system, which saw people pledge funds for the charity and only a select few would be successful in securing a ticket for the sold-out event.

The Northern Echo: The Geordie singer played hits from albums 'Hypersonic Missiles' and 'Seventeen Going Under'. Picture: PATRICK GOULDSBROUGH.The Geordie singer played hits from albums 'Hypersonic Missiles' and 'Seventeen Going Under'. Picture: PATRICK GOULDSBROUGH.

Having played ‘Get You Down’, ‘Spit of You’ and ‘Play God’ to a rabbling reception from the crowd, fans in the venue were treated to an encore of singalong tune ‘Saturday’ and new fan-favourite ‘Seventeen Going Under’, before the most emotional moment of the gig arrived.

Having given nods to North East Homeless throughout the evening, including the charity workers sitting on the balcony, branding them “incredible humans”, as well as dedicating track ‘The Dying Light’ to them, the Geordie musician invited the creator of the charity Brian Burridge and charity worker Earl Charlton to the stage.

Both men had battled to make their dreams a reality – Brian to get North East Homeless off the ground and Earl to battle homelessness and drug addiction to now work for the charity.

The Northern Echo: In total, £133,000 was raised for North East Homeless. Picture: PATRICK GOULDSBROUGH.In total, £133,000 was raised for North East Homeless. Picture: PATRICK GOULDSBROUGH.

After receiving a deafening Newcastle welcome, the charity pair were presented with a charity cheque for an incredible £133,000 – raised by the fans that had turned out for the gig, an amazing testament to the North East spirit.

Bidding farewell to his Newcastle “family”, Sam meanders into his final song, “the record that started it all”, ‘Hypersonic Missiles’ – which causes an incredible singalong to break out in the stalls and on the balcony.

This collective singalong carries out onto Northumberland Road and I’m sure a lot further, as droves of people head off into the night, safe in the knowledge they’ve had a great time seeing a real ‘hometown hero’ of theirs.

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