It seems nothing, not even the typically British weather, could dampen the atmosphere of a 450 capacity sold out show at The Fleece. That’s because tonight’s headliners, Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes have become synonymous with an unmissable assault of a live show that has become a staple for any self-respecting fan of British punk rock. As the lights dim, the band take place on stage to play the opening of the track ‘Trouble’, almost in ritualistic fashion as if to summon the eponymous front man to the stage as the crowd whips up into a manic frenzy. Rapturous applause welcomes the tattooed, Gucci-suit-wearing Frank as he shuffles his way with the swagger of a mobster to the centre of the stage before eyeing up his audience with an intimidating glare. He bellows out the first lines of the song, sending the crowd into further chaos.
No time is spared before the band deliver their first single Fangs, to which the crowd sing the lyrics back at a volume that takes even the seasoned Frank Carter by surprise. “This is my favourite venue in the country” Carter admits as he shuts down a heckle of “Bullshit!” He keeps up this stand-up comedian level of back and forth banter throughout the night, a testament to his evolution from simply a hardcore front man to an iconic British punk performer. “There’s less here for me to climb every time I play” he jokes. “I think the fuckers have put grease on the poles.”
It only takes three songs for Carter to plunge into the crowd. Held up on the shoulders of a brave few, Carter introduces the song Juggernaut as being about “doing whatever the fuck you want”, to which he ends his repartee to instigate more animalistic chaos among the now very sweaty rabble in the mosh pit.
The chaos quells as Frank orders the crowd to sit down, and dedicates the next song ‘Beautiful Death’ to anyone who’s lost someone close. What follows is a cathartic, emotional experience which sees the crowd silent as Carter painfully sings about personal loss. This song and the rest of Carter’s performance makes his place in UK punk rock even more pertinent; he has evolved from the days of Gallows and Pure Love to something much more – a titan of a performer who has the ability to mould and adapt his sound and still encapsulate the feelings and emotions of a community and connect them further. “Whether you’re from Wales or from Bristol,” Carter says, noting some regional joshing around among the crowd “just be glad you’re not from America – cos they are fucked” he jokes.
As he tears through fan favourites such as I Hate You and Devil Inside of Me, Carter masterfully controls and entertains the crowd with the professionalism of a seasoned musician, while still maintaining the ferocity and aggression in his performance that fans have grown to know and love. Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes proved they have the depth and sincerity as well as punk credibility to cement themselves firmly as a shining beacon of originality among the UK punk rock scene.