How Newcastle (and Greggs) Got Behind Sam Fender for his Homecoming Gigs
We were all talking in the morning about what Sam created at St James' Park
Picture the scene: the sun is shining, there’s a feeling of hometown pride in the air and Newcastle is filled with excited fans donning Toon tops in support of North Shields’ own Sam Fender. You walk down Grainger Street to find that Greggs have turned their shop into Fender’s Unplugged, a dive bar dedicated to and supported by the man himself. The windows are covered in illustrations of local landmarks and Sam eating a pasty, and behind the doors is a Greggs like you’ve never seen before.
Inside the walls were covered in memorabilia, including a signed Fender guitar, vinyl and posters from his favourite artists and (a particular highlight), a revolving sausage roll which Sam had taken a bite out of, complete with a gold plaque. If Greggs was a Hard Rock Café which only celebrated one rock star, it would look something like this.
The dive bar lived up to its promise of being ‘the ultimate pre-gig experience’ as we were treated to cans and bottles of Brown Ale, music from local hip hop artist Kay Greyson, and half-time sausage and bean melts with wedges (other choices were available). It felt like you were getting a glimpse into Sam’s life before his success and was amazing to support other local talent that he had handpicked himself.
Kay Greyson provided the perfect soundtrack to build the excitement, performing original songs and even ending her set by rapping over Seventeen Going Under. It was a perfect taste of what was to come later and arguably the most ‘Newcastle’ place I’ve ever been.
The fun didn’t end there, on the walk up to St James’ Park the atmosphere was electric as buskers entertained crowds, fans sang and laughed with friends. That feeling continued inside the stadium as Sam came on stage to the crowd singing Hey Jude (the Toon version, of course).
Music often brings people together but this gig was something else. The camaraderie and pride in Sam as he sang hits such as Will We Talk, kicking it up a notch by inviting AC/DC’s Brian Johnson on stage, along with his guitar teacher, left the crowd on a high continuing to sing along to the encore, when 50,000 fans sang Saturday and lost their minds.
The whole experience was one not to miss and is something people will be talking about for years to come. Sam cemented himself as a local hero and all of Newcastle were here for it.