Sam Fender in Review: A Fresh Perspective on Music at the Moroccan Lounge

By Isabelle Cruz
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Photo by Jarrod Castillo

Singer-songwriter Sam Fender knows how to pack a punch when it comes to using music and lyrics to raise important questions no one seems to be talking about.

With his first and sold out show in LA’s Moroccan Lounge, Fender set foot on stage unsure of what to expect from an American crowd. Would they know his music? Would they go crazy and sing along? Despite the uncertainty, the venue maintained an intimate ambience. The small space was filled to capacity and the audience was palpably excited. R&B twin duo Oliver Riot opened the show with their soulful hits before turning the stage to Fender.

“I recorded [my music] in like a shed in my mom’s front room flat. And it was like a guerrilla recording…I never expected it to do anything.” said Fender.

Sam Fender didn’t look like your ordinary rockstar. He had a boyish smile and kept his head up dressed in his black collared shirt tucked into his black pants and formal looking dress shoes. Fender looked like he was ready to attend a school formal, better yet, a recital. But that impression broke when he took hold of the mic and opened his mouth to sing the resonant melody to “Millennial.”

After the first song, Fender introduced his band: Dean Thompson on lead guitar, Tom Ungerer on bass, Joe Atkinson on guitar and keys, Drew Michael on drums and John on the saxophone (for certain songs). The rest of the hour-long set, Fender and his band did what they came to do, what they love to do and what they do best: play music.

Photo by Jarrod Castillo

American Sam Fender fans definitely came out to support the artist.

“I heard about Sam Fender from my friend who is a big fan,” said Maria Takigawa, who attended Fender’s concert. Takigawa and her friend Katie Sunada were captivated by Fender’s humor. One of their favorite parts of the show was the feature of the “saxophone man.”

Another fan Beliz Urkmez heard about the show from her college radio station. She was upfront at the concert and saw the setlist. Her favorite song is “Poundshop Kardashians.”

Fender was able to connect to the multi-aged audience with his stage presence and his ability to switch between anecdotes and humor. He expressed his appreciation to be able to perform in LA and then described his experience being a tourist with an embarrassing compilation of memories such as stumbling inside Saddle Ranch, followed by a few members of the band, and conquering the mechanical bull.

Fender captivated his audience by singing stories of hardship and deciphering the realities pop culture doesn’t dare to delve into. He grew up in South Shields and came from a musical family. His societal commentary roots from his upbringing in a working class family.

In an interview, Fender reveals that his head was barely above water growing up. He watched friends struggle living off of almost nothing and came to understand the harsh realities and conditions of the world he lived in.

Despite difficult circumstances, Fender thrived in music and carried on the musical tradition eventually making it big in the industry. He has truly brought something fresh and new to the music world, and fans are invested and ready for more.

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