Words: Chloe Ross
Pictures: Erin Moore
Following the October release of their highly anticipated fourth album, Sticky, Thursday night at Manchester Academy certainly kept in theme with that title, with a post-lockdown crowd positively frothing at the mouth from the get-go for a night of raucous live music.
It would be utterly remiss to not give the biggest props of the night to opener Lynks. Backed up by the hilariously named ‘shower gels’, their fantastically tongue-in-cheek lyrics, synchronised choreography and infectious, self-deprecating humour completely wins over a crowd that (to generalise) wouldn’t usually expect to see opening for rockers Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes. “Thank you to Frank for going for the completely obvious option as a support,” they sarcastically remark to rapturous laughter from the masses. Lynks is certainly an up-and-comer you’re going to want to look out for in the next few months, I’m calling it now.
Cassyette is next up onstage, once again a relatively new artist on the scene (massive respect to the headliners for championing these artists on the rise). Her voice is absolutely incredible, a perfect heavy raspy tone that carries across the room, captivating everyone in its wake. Hit singles “Dear Goth” and “Petrichor” go down swimmingly with the hungry onlookers, with many a mosh pit revving up almost immediately.
You can practically chew on the expectant atmosphere in the crowd as they finally wait the final thirty minutes for the main event of the night to begin; an impromptu singalong of Tenacious D’s “Tribute” playing over the speakers is a particular highlight and keeps the fun going until the lights finally drop down to exultant screams ready for Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes. Just before the set begins, and without much explanation, a stage hand passes out handfuls of fake pink roses to the first few rows to share around.
The familiar synths of “My Town” bellow out as the members take to the stage one by one, and as the song fully kicks in, it’s clear that something special is about to go down. If you’ve ever been to a Rattlesnakes show before you know they always bring it, but there’s truly a different vibe about tonight from the start; it’s exuberance, it’s joy, it’s elation purely oozing from every sweaty corner of the room. As you glance around, there’s barely a single person without a cheesy grin plastered on their face, and the band simply look beyond overjoyed to just be on a stage in front of people again.
“Wild Flowers” prompts frontman Carter to instruct that the mosh pit is purely a safe space for women and non-binary people for this song, a move that is utterly admirable and rarely seen at any live rock shows. Sadly the song is stopped halfway through to instruct some people clearly not following the rules to leave the pit; “it’s simple, this is not and never will be your space,” he warns, to deafening cheers all around. I cannot stress enough how wonderful it is to see a band making steps for a safer, more inclusive audience for everyone no matter what.
Raging through banger after banger, The Rattlesnakes make it abundantly clear that this setlist is a statement of exactly where they are at musically right now; very new album heavy, but with a few older fan favourites firmly sitting in their rightful place in the mix. This is a set that wants you to know this is who they are, whether you like it or not; luckily, the crowd in Manchester certainly seems to love it.
Support acts are brought up for their respective features on the new album tracks. Cassyette returns to the stage for “Off With His Head”, and Lynks is back up for “Bang Bang” and “Go Get A Tattoo”, respectively; I’ve never quite seen joy like I witnessed as Lynks and the ‘shower gels’ bounced around the stage in GGAT, clearly adoring every second they’re performing. The pink roses handed out come into play finally in “Cupid’s Arrow”, as the audience are instructed to throw the flowers around in the air; it does create quite an interesting spectacle and I’m certain it made for some great video footage for the band’s photographer to capture.
Possibly the highlight of the entire night for me was Frank’s commitment to the extremely young fans present; not only did he constantly check that everyone in the crowd was safe and having a good time, he actually drags up a six year old who’s is (adorably) dressed up like him, drawn on face tattoos, the lot, and his elated father to take a guest spot on “Devil Inside Me”, as well as a young girl who had been waving a sign requesting a hug from the man himself the entire night.
Things take a sombre turn in “Angel Wings”, with Carter screaming the lyrics with the passion of a man on absolute fire. The heart and soul of the group of them collectively just shouts out at you, every single member played their absolute best as if their lives depended on it. As the set draws to a close with “Original Sin”, the whole lot of them just look completely thrilled with how the set has played out.
After claiming that Manchester is truly their “home away from home”, they leave the stage as men accomplished, truly victorious in playing one of the best live shows I’ve personally ever witnessed.
I am not overstating when I express that this is honestly a band to be reckoned with. They just come back to their live shows stronger and stronger with every tour, throwing every ounce of effort into their performance and adoring every second of the receptive crowd. Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes are just an insanely polished live band, and I implore you to check them out at the earliest opportunity.