34 13 J ANUARY 202 2 WEEKENDING HEAR IT NOW Stuart Maconie Events The 6Music presenter on Sam Fender The LowLights Tavern, North Shields’ oldest pub, is a characterful boozer but it’s not the sort of place that normally crops up in the arts pages of The NewYork Times. It did just before Christmas though, as part of a profile of a local boy who’s become not just an emblematic hero in the North East, but feted in turn by his own heroes, including Bruce Springsteen. ‘The English Springsteen’ may seema little grandiose for a 27-yearold with only two albums to his name, but it reflects the high regard Sam Fender is held in bymany and the nature of his songcraft and approach. In a processed, algorithmic pop world, his music feels raw. It has the pressing realismof ArcticMonkeys or HappyMondays and the wild, romantic appeal of TheWaterboys and, of course, Bruce Springsteen, whomhe worships. But unlike those bigmythic rock groups, Fender’s songs are urgent bulletins from teenage and working class life in northern streets. It is a chilly, bloody world away from the slickness of somuchmodern songwriting, which is why somany people have embraced it and its earthy, guitar driven sound. Fender’s childhood, while initially comfortable, became di cult after his parents divorced when he was eight and his mother’s illness stopped her working. This left its mark on himand his music, introducing a grittier perspective which has set himapart fromhis peers. Steven Van Zandt, of his beloved Springsteen’s E Street Band, who plays him continually on his US radio show, says Fender ‘could have taken the easy route’ thanks to his charisma, voice and brooding good looks, but opted to sing ‘these intensely personal songs of working class life that had no guarantee of success’. Success did arrive, but not before six years inwhichFender worked in low-paid jobs andwas singing in local pubs when his nowmanager Owain Davies heard himbelt out his ownmaterial in among Beatles covers and was ‘totally struck by this incredible voice’. Fender became an overnight sensationwith his debut album HypersonicMissiles then, last autumn, the brilliant SeventeenGoingUnder. Both albums topped the charts, but it was the latter’s title track that cemented his new compelling style. Defiant and exultant, the song’s crucial line about a bully – I was far too scared to hit him, but I would hit him in a heartbeat now – resonatedwithmillions. While he’s been compared with Ed Sheeran and Springsteen, it’s hard to imagine either writing a song like Poundshop Kardashians or a crazed, hilarious punk document of Covidmeasures in his local supermarket. Let’s hope social distancing isn’t a consideration when he plays at the Utilita Arena Newcastle in April and London in June. Right now, there’s no way SamFender can keep the world at arm’s length. @StuartMaconie ‘Fender worked in low-paid jobs and was singing in pubs when his nowmanager Owain Davies was “struck by this incredible voice”’ rising star Sam Fender has won praise from his musical heroes GET SAVVY WITH A FINANCE PODCAST ‘Savemoney’ and ‘sort out my finances’ regularly appear in the top 10most popular new year’s resolutions. And a goodmoney podcast is a great start to get clued up. These three are all thoroughly relatable and full of workable tips that reallymake a di erence: Meaningful Money with financial planner PeteMatthews, who explains key personal finance topics in simple everyday language, from how to get out of debt to saving for retirement. The Save Spend Invest podcast is hosted by Bukiie Smart (right), a 20-something working her way towards financial freedom. She focuses on three essential steps to doing just that – ditching debt, saving, andmaking extramoney from ‘side hustles’. InHer Financial Shoes is hosted by finance coach CatherineMorgan, who is great on the emotional side of money, and the habits and ways of thinking that could be holding you back from achieving financial security. STAY ON TREND WITH A NEW HUE If you’re planning on redecorating, take a look at this year’s ‘it’ colour – purple. Very Peri is the colour of the year announced by the Pantone Colour Institute. “As we move into a world of unprecedented change, the selection of Very Peri brings a novel perspective and vision of the trusted and beloved blue family, encompassing the qualities of the blues, yet at the same time with its violet red undertone, displays a spritely, joyous attitude and dynamic presence that encourages courageous creativity and imaginative expressions,” says institute executive director Leatrice Eiseman. The good news is it looks great on walls. Best paint match we’ve seen is Little Greene’s Mambo 112, from John Lewis.