It’s clear to see why Frank Carter & the Rattlesnakes were nominated for Live Act of the Year 2017 by the Association for Independent Festivals, with their relentless punk rock sound and palpable energy shaking Rock City to its core.
Their set started in darkness with powerful vibrations that were felt pulsing through your body. Bursting onto the stage, frontman Frank Carter cried the opening lyrics of ‘Primary Explosive’ to a screaming, headbanging crowd which ranged from teenagers to die hard, full sleeve tattooed rockers. Screaming “Nottingham, let’s f****** do this!”, Nottingham did not disappoint.
“Frank had climbed across the tops of heads and into the middle of the crowd”
By the third track, Frank had climbed across the tops of heads and into the middle of the crowd, yellow flashing lights behind him. Held upside down by adoring fans, he chanted the chorus of ‘Juggernaut’ while doing a headstand, a display of both brilliance and lovable madness.
The fifth track of the night was ‘Wild Flowers’, which Frank dedicated “to people who have to put up with shit every single day of their lives, who live in a world that is not equal… pays them lesser wages… ladies, this song is for you.” He went on to encourage all the women in the room to leave their inhibitions behind and to crowd surf. “Every man here will keep you safe”, he said, while simultaneously making it explicitly clear what would happen if any men didn’t keep their hands to themselves, a comment that was met with rapturous applause from both sexes.
“The track ended with a gaggle of girls on stage”
With erratic blue and red lights behind them, drummer Gareth Grover let rip, pounding each beat while security helped a sea of girls out safely as they crowd surfed. The track ended with a gaggle of girls on stage, dancing and laughing and hugging Frank before they regained their place in the crowd, showing the ease with which a completely inclusive and ecstatic atmosphere was curated, something all concerts should try to emanate.
After ‘Acid Veins’, ‘Real Life’ and the Rattlesnakes’ most popular track on Spotify, ‘Spray Paint Love’, the crowd was a mess of mosh pits, headbanging and absolute, unrelenting energy.
To quieten them down was a task but a task which Frank did with ease. Before the next song, he asked for all the lights in Rock City to be turned off and for everyone to hold a light up. Starting by saying that he wrote the next song when he was at his lowest, Frank proceeded to make profound points, highlighting the link between his music and his mental health, feelings that no doubt resonated with many of his fans.
“The honesty and clarity with which Frank Carter spoke, struck a chord with the crowd”
“This song is about respecting everything that’s gone before but understanding that there is so much more beauty in life. So listen to this song, sing the words, respect if, for tomorrow is a new day, you get out there and you change your situation, do not live inside your misery.” Having posted a statement cancelling their European tour with Papa Roach in September of this year due to “the insidious nature of internal pain”, the honesty and clarity with which Frank Carter spoke, struck a chord with the crowd who indeed applauded his words and respected his song.
Performed with mobility and unbelievable energy, Frank joined the mosh-pit-avoiding crowd on Rock City’s balcony and made his way down the stairs for the titular track from their most recent album, ‘Modern Ruin’. Reclaiming his place on stage for the final minutes, “That’s what happens when you give me a wireless mic,” he laughed.
The second song dedication of the night went to Theresa May, Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un. ‘Thunder’, with lyrics such as “They’ve got bars and bricks and f***** bombs and they’re dangerous because they don’t think they’re wrong”, was performed to a backdrop of dark orange lights and passionate guitar chords with Frank’s biting vocals above it all.
“If Thunder was the prologue then this is the epilogue,” said a riled up, red shirt clad Frank, as the electric opening chords of ‘Paradise’ filled the room and the now sweaty and steaming audience moved along to the beat.
“The lights flashed in rainbow colours”
After 15 fantastic songs, the lights dimmed and the band left to the sound of a chanting crowd, desperate for one more song. A few minutes later and Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes returned to the stage, smashing out ‘Devil Inside Me’, a crowd favourite. The lights flashed in rainbow colours for ‘Lullaby’, a mix of purple, green, red and blue lights shining out towards the crowd, more than half of which were now jumping fiercely into each other in a massive circle pit.
The band’s hour and a half long set finished on an ironically calmer note with dirty blues track ‘I Hate You’, sang back and forth between the crowd and the band who were visibly grinning at their reception in Rock City. Guitar chords met with whoops and cheers to ease the band out but of course, the last word was Frank Carter’s, applauding his band members, the Rock City security and bar staff, and thanking the dripping crowd for coming out tonight in what seemed like a genuinely humbled moment of disbelief that a three-year-old band could command such an audience.
“Frank Carter’s charisma and engagement is undeniably what makes the band so popular”
With music that combines both personal and worldly aching delivered in the most engaging and passionate way, Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes are an extremely talented quintuplet who ooze passion and anger. Frontman Frank Carter’s charisma and engagement is undeniably what makes the band so popular and so exceptional live. Not a single word was uttered by the other four musicians but that in no way detracts from their musical prowess and sheer brilliance onstage.
Hands down one of the best bands I’ve ever seen live, I left feeling almost, if not more, privileged to see Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, than they seemed to perform.
Images Courtesy of James A Grant