Frank Carter is a man made to perform. Having spent over a decade honing his craft, he’s solidified himself as one of the most exciting and mesmerising frontmen in the punk rock scene today. Clad in a pinstripe suit and blanketed in tattoos, his striking appearance is the perfect match for a bold and charismatic stage show. It’s only right that the support should too encompass much of the same charisma, in order to encapsulate exactly what Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes are all about.
Support band Yonaka have a slightly more esoteric sound than tonight’s headliner- it’s all very 70s inspired, both in style and in sound. Frontwoman Theresa Jarvis wouldn’t look entirely out of place at Woodstock or Altamont, while her vocals carry tones of vibrato, which land her somewhere in the realms between Gwen Stefani and Florence Welch. Final song Bubblegum brings a more modern and pop-y edge, bringing to a close a set that seemed to celebrate a lot of older influences.From the off, there is not one moment of doubt in anyone’s mind that he is the greatest frontman on the UK’s heavy music scene at the moment. Their entrance to the stage is sound tracked by Motorhead’s cover of Sympathy For The Devil, before the band delve straight into slow burner Snake Eyes. Two songs in and Carter hasn’t actually said a word to the crowd- yet there’s just something so captivating about his showmanship, he doesn’t even need to. During the vehement Juggernaut, standing on the crowd and trusting them to hold him up by supporting his feet he yells; “bring these legs together! I aint trying to give birth!” while the track delivers the dirtiest, heaviest vibes of the night so far.
“When I stood here with Gallows ten years ago, the landscape would have been a lot different”, he details, referring to some ever-present issues of sexism, and the fact women can’t enjoy the same things as men at shows for fear of being violated. This in mind, Carter invites only the women to crowd surf during Modern Ruin, in a guaranteed safe environment.Behind all the bravado and southern patter, there are genuine smiles as the need to sing is more than occasionally rendered unnecessary while fans shout whole verses back at the band. Vampires’ lulling interlude provides a second of serenity, upheld by Thunder, and only briefly interrupted by the short, sharp attack that is Jackals. There’s a moment at the end of Neon Rust as the track approaches its climax, where the vocals seem to hit a new level and it’s so brash and raw, yet communicates the overwhelming emotion perfectly.As the entire band minus Frank exit the stage and leave him standing there alone with a guitar, he announces “this is the first song I ever wrote on my own, I’ve been playing music for ten years and I learned how to play guitar last year. I am the worst guitar player in this room”. Segueing humorously into Bluebell, a song about his dog, he leaves the crowd to sing it back to him as the rest of the band files back on stage. Lullaby seems to get one of the best responses so far, while the explosive Paradise begins be being underlined by Frank’s snarls of “this song is about terrorists, and how I think they’re all cowards”, and ends with both Carter and guitarist Dean Richardson abandoning the stage and standing atop a sea of hands in the crowd. For the final song- the unadulterated I Hate You- there are no vocals for the entire first verse as the crowd yell the obscenities back at the band, and Carter stands grinning maniacally at what he has created.
Frank Carter is a man who has turned his hand to fronting more than his share of bands- with each evolution, he seems to add more strings to his bow, and Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes have emerged from these experiences as nothing less than a well-oiled machine. They are without a doubt, Frank’s slickest, yet most raw project to date- and it only takes an evening seeing their live show to prove that. Photos by Erin Moore at Forte Photography UK