I want to start this review with some background. I first heard Frank Carter yelling at me from the speakers of a poor-quality Bluetooth speaker running off a cheap MP3 player in the campsite of Download in 2007. My friend had downloaded the Orchestra of Wolves album that week and Abandon Ship had me hooked.
I went to see Gallows play on the Dimebag Darrell stage, teeming with excitement. Obviously, they did not disappoint. The whole band was full of energy but Frank was something else. I watched them and thought to myself, if I’m ever the frontman of a band, I want to put out that much energy.
I’ve followed Frank’s career since then through the end of his time with Gallows, into Pure Love, and now to the Rattlesnakes. I enjoyed Pure Love. I saw them live a couple of times and Frank’s energy was still there, but it wasn’t the same. Then I heard Fangs. It felt like that first time I heard Abandon Ship and I was excited again. I’ve seen Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes a couple of times, but this is the first time seeing them in my hometown where I’ve previously seen Gallows and Pure Love. I missed out on a ticket so had written it off, but thanks to the powers that be, I rocked up at Fibbers at 10 past 7 with my name on the reviewers list.
There was only one support on the show, Black Futures. I had never heard of, never mind listened to, this band before so had no idea what to expect. About 5 minutes before they went on, two people in hazmat suits stood at either side of the stage waving flags. Then, after the lights dropped, a 30 second countdown began. Two band members walked out and began to play just drums, guitar and a synth setup.
Black Futures play electronic music with a hint of industrial and punk. Some of their music reminded me a lot of Prodigy in this regard. Their set was dark and atmospheric, and there was little crowd interaction, but this didn’t seem out of place with the overall mood of their performance. While this is not the kind of music I would usually listen to, and I probably wouldn’t go and listen to them at home, it was a solid performance and I definitely wouldn’t be upset if they were the support on another show I was going to.
After a 30 minute changeover, the lights dropped once more and Frank & the Rattlesnakes appeared on stage to tumultuous applause. Blasting into their latest single “Crowbar” from their upcoming album “End of Suffering”, everyone sang along. It’s testament to the following of the band that there didn’t seem to be a single person there who was unfamiliar with their newest song from an as yet unreleased album.
The set rolled on and saw Frank crowdsurfing standing up, as he is wont to do. “I thought this was Viking central?”, he yells. “I’m a fucking Viking”, he continues before letting out a primal scream. He later posits “it certainly smells like a Viking longship in here”.
Everyone in the building knows to have their phones and cameras at the ready when Frank is around. He is an excellent showman bringing his punk sensibilities to the masses, but this is only possible when the band you are performing with is as talented as the Rattlesnakes clearly are. Every drum-hit is precise, the bass is solid and pounding and the guitar crunches its way through every riff.
“Trouble”, from their first album “Blossom”, was dedicated to Theresa May for “being a fucking cunt and destroying our country” to huge whoops and cheers from the crowd.
The second half of their set was loaded with a lot of words from Frank. Firstly, there was a heartfelt thanks to everyone who had been there from the start of the band before launching into “Fangs”. Then, before “Heartbreaker”, he talked about the issues with sexism and misogyny and called for a safe space for women to be able to mosh and crowdsurf if they wanted to. Someone looked uncomfortable in the front of the crowd, so he paused the song to make sure they were okay, got security to get them out, and then checked that both they and security were doing ok.
Before new song “Anxiety”, Frank did a very passionate talk about mental health and looking after friends and family. He spoke primarily to men, saying that we need to talk more about how we feel; joking that women seem to have already figured that out and said “We are conditioned from birth to be warriors. The problem with that is that the pinnacle achievement for a warrior is to die, and we’re not going to do that anymore”.
The last two songs were from “Blossom”, my favourite album of theirs. “Devil Inside Me” and “I Hate You” both elicited huge singalongs from the crowd and ended the night on a high.
It seems that Frank’s Gallows and Pure Love personas have merged to create a much more rounded individual, capable both of being angry when it’s necessary but tender and gentle as well. I have no doubt that Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes’ new album will only bring them more recognition as the excellent musicians and performers that they are, and it will be nothing less than deserved.