The singer-songwriter will play the huge hometown show at the home of his beloved Newcastle United on June 9 next year, becoming the first Geordie band to headline the venue.
“It’s been a running joke since we started the band,” Fender told NME this week of his long-running desire to play a gig at the venue. “We used to be like, ‘Ah, imagine if we headlined St James’ one day!’ Now that it’s happening, it’s a little bit bizarre.
“I think we manifested it by accident,” the singer added, saying that he and his bandmates “used to take the piss” and discuss the idea of playing a headline show at the famous football ground.
Fender continued: “No actual Geordie band has ever done it. Brian Johnson did it with AC/DC, but they were already an Australian band that were doing well [before he joined]. For the whole band to be from the area and to play there, it’s a really, really big thing for us.”
Sam Fender performing at Finsbury Park. CREDIT: Simone Joyner/Getty Images
Of the show, which is likely to be one of very few UK live performances from the singer next summer, Fender said: “I always said that if we ever got big enough to be able to play a stadium, this had to be the first one. It had to be in our hometown.”
Tickets for Sam Fender’s St. James’ Park go on sale at 10am BST on Friday, September 9. A pre-sale is available from 10am on September 7, and fans can sign up here before 5pm on September 6 to enter the pre-sale.
Get your tickets here and find full details of the June 2023 gig below.
Fender has a storied history with the 55,000 capacity home of his beloved Newcastle United. He told NME that his first visit to the stadium, which towers over the city centre, was to see his team get “battered” by Barcelona in a European competition when he was six years old.
“I never really get to go these days because I’m so busy,” Fender said, “but whenever I am home I manage to go and watch the games with my friends. We’re all going to one this Saturday!”
One recent trip to St. James’ did come in October of last year when Fender was spotted among thousands of other Newcastle fans celebrating the club’s new ownership, and his subsequent viral appearance on BBC Breakfast the next morning, where he conceded: “I’m really, really hungover.”
At the massive gig next summer, Fender has promised performances of a handful of tracks from 2021’s acclaimed ‘Seventeen Going Under’ that he and his band haven’t managed to play live yet, as well as offering that there will “probably be songs from another album that hasn’t come out yet.”
Describing the new music as sounding “very pretty” with a strong “singer-songwriter” vibe, Fender revealed that he has already written a number of songs for the next album, with more writing sessions due before the end of the year.
Despite stadiums being on the horizon, Fender said that he wasn’t planning on writing music purely to fill huge venues.
“If I try and force myself to write stadium songs, we could end up fucking it I think,” he admitted. “Instead, I want to write about the stories that I have and the place that I’m mentally at in my life at this point. And I’ve had a lot to write about.”
Sam Fender playing the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury (Credit: Phoebe Fox)
Discussing how he maintains focus in his songwriting despite the whirlwind success he has experienced over the last 12 months, Fender told NME: “I’m not living in my mum’s flat anymore, and that’s where a lot of the songs were written from the last record. But I’m still in [North] Shields, you know, I never left. I’m still friends with all the same people. All my family and all my friends are still all in the same boat, so there’s a level of guilt that comes with it when you feel like things are going good, because I’ve still got loads of pals who are living in dire straits. It’s always there.”
He added: “I guess my biggest hero, Springsteen, he never ever stopped singing about his home. He never stopped writing about people. I think that’s the reality – just because things are going good here doesn’t mean that I have to completely lose connection with the human experience.”
Along with Bob Dylan and AC/DC, Bruce Springsteen played one of the most famous gigs at St. James’ Park in 1985, a show which has been passed down Fender family folklore, with Sam’s godfather attending the gig.
Bruce Springsteen performing at Newcastle’s St. James’ Park in June 1985. Credit: Steve Rapport/Getty Images.
As well as playing London’s massive Finsbury Park and destroying the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury 2022, Fender also headlined his first festivals this summer, at Truck, Tramlines and Victorious, continuing his remarkable rise.
At Finsbury Park, Fender was joined by Fontaines D.C., whose bassist Conor Deegan told NME at Reading Festival last weekend that he would be interested in the idea of a collaboration with the singer-songwriter.
Is Fender game?
“Completely!”he replied. “We’ve all toyed with the idea of doing some strange supergroup, which would be a great laugh I think.
“It’s incredible,” Fender added of headlining festivals. “It’s the first time that we’ve done that, but it felt great. It’s still surreal for us… still really surreal. But you know what, we’re walking into it. We’re just going into it and doing what we always do, which is going out and giving the best show we possibly can.”
After his first taste of headlining festivals this summer, if a Reading & Leeds or Glastonbury were to come calling next year, would he feel ready? “I think we could take that on now, yeah!”
Tickets to Fender’s 2023 St. James’ Park will be on general sale here from 10am BST on Friday, September 9.
Fender will be also touring the US in September and November this year. Visit here for tickets and more information.