Sam Fender walked out on stage to the tune of Local Hero and it could not have been more apt when he opened the first of two massive homecoming gigs at Newcastle’s St James’ Park.
In front of a sell-out 50,000 crowd, the 29-year-old singer-songwriter from North Shields played the biggest gig of his career, later admitting he had been “terrified”.
The Newcastle United fan, who famously turned up on the BBC Breakfast TV sofa looking hungover after partying with fans when the Magpies were bought by Saudi interests, wore a vintage replica training top and at times the gig seemed like a Magpies home game, with hundreds of black and white flags flying in the stands, and chants of “Toon Toon, Black and White Army” breaking out between songs.
June 9 was an auspicious night for a Tynesider – that is the date of the Blaydon Races song, which always features at Newcastle United games.
At one point, Fender described the idea of playing St James’ as a “joke” for the band.
The outpouring of emotion from fans looked to have almost overwhelmed him at times as the band smashed through the set list.
And during the triumphant encore, Fender thanks the crowd after admitting the idea of the concert had terrified him. He said: “You singing along has really helped. Thank you.”
The Ivor Novello winner released his debut solo album Hypersonic Missiles in September 2019, following it up with second album Seventeen Going Under in October 2021.
In selling out St James’ Park, Fender follows his hero Bruce Springsteen who played to 76,000 fans over two nights at the stadium in 1985.