It’s been somewhat of a turbulent year for Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, starting the year off by releasing their sophomore album ‘Modern Ruin’ which made it to number 7 in the UK charts – followed by a sell out headline tour as well as taking the festival circuit by storm, it was all looking rosy for the band.
Towards the end of the year, the band pulled out of an opening slot for Papa Roach’s European tour as well as cancelling a North American tour due to lead singer, Frank Carter, needing time to focus on his mental well being. With all these setbacks, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the band would take the opportunity to prove a point on their current headlining UK tour, as Carter strutted on stage at the O2 Ritz, ready to spit fire, a point was definitely about to be proven.
The chaos starts in earnest as the band open with ‘Primary Explosive’ – the perfect way to summarize the visceral ball of energy that Carter becomes in an instant. The crowd are just a cohesive sea of bodies as the band crank up the volume with power house hits ‘Rotten Blossom’ and ‘Trouble’, a constant wave of crashing guitars and drums blasted towards the crowd.
It doesn’t take long for the war cries to begin as the crowd completely take over singing duties during the chorus to the snarling ‘Juggernaut’ and Carter joins the crowd, starting atop of them screaming throughout and even had the balance to do a handstand and surf his way through mass of bodies.
Before the band break into ‘Wildflowers’, Carter takes a moment to dedicate the song to the women in the crowd and asks for a rule to be enforced in which only women can crowd surf to the song, promising a safe environment from abuse by male members of the audience. It’s a touching sentiment that the band are trying to create an inclusive environment but it’s also a crying shame that it even needs to be said. The song is stopped midway through as a female fan collapsed but the band, the staff and the fans pulled together to make room for her to have safe passage out of the chaos, brilliant all round!
Once given the okay, the band are back at it with ‘Acid Veins’ getting it’s first airing live followed by ‘Real Life’ and the brand new track ‘Spray Paint Love’, fitting seamlessly into the set. The show was once again stopped as there were fears someone else had gotten injured but it turns out someone had lost their phone which prompted less than sympathetic chants of “Fuck his phone!” from the crowd, never change, Manchester.
The 56 seconds of thrashing punk guitar riffs and heavy beats on ‘Jackals’ keep the crowd on their toes before, Carter goes on a wander to the balcony floor to oversee ‘Modern Ruin’ from a different vantage point. Sometimes there’s a disconnect between the crowd on the floor and the crowd on balconies but as always, Carter wants everyone to feel a part of the show and giving him a wireless mic gives him the freedom of the entire venue, get the acoustics right and he might sing the entire show from the toilet next time!
Amongst the madness, there was a moment of serenity as Carter alludes to his struggles of late and advised the crowd “Do not live and die in your head, get out there and talk to someone” before serenading the crowd with a stripped back and laid bare version of ‘Loss’. The tone is shifted slightly to the politically targeted ‘Thunder’ a song that tries to make sense of a world gone mad, Carter and crowd screaming in unison, “Are you friend or are you foe?” over and over. Introducing ‘Fangs’ as a song that’s “all about people fucking like animals” has the crowd worked into a frenzy.
The band has a certain affinity with Manchester, after all this was the first show to sell out on the tour and a ticket to a gig here has been increasingly hard to get a hold of, as the band line up for the encore they announce they want to give the crowd something special. They promised to play every song they’ve ever released at their show in Brixton but tonight, they were going one better.
As the band smash their way through the all conquering ‘Devil Inside of Me’ to the fall and rise of ‘Snake Eyes’ and the ironically titled ‘Lullaby’, the band ask what the crowd want to hear and deja vu strikes as ‘Fangs’ has the crowd bouncing once again – meaning they played one song more for Manchester, before ending the night with the feel good anthem ‘I Hate You’, the crowd having one last chance to release their energy and exude any lingering hate from their system.
The energy that this band put into performing has seen them come to the forefront of the UK rock music scene. Frank is the focal point, of course, as the energy he exudes alone at the show is almost inhuman and he carries a cocksure charisma that could win over the harshest of crowds. With that being said, the band as a whole tick every single box, their tightness as a unit and their grit and determination to ruthlessly blow the roof off every venue they play is an endearing quality that is appreciated by every single member of the audience.
The year may have had its ups and downs but make no mistake, 2017 was the year of the rattlesnake, we can only sit back and wait for their venomous strike to hit again in 2018 and beyond.
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