Frank Carter is a legend in his own right. After having been the frontman of the pivotal punk band Gallows up until 2011 and then forming his own rock band ‘Pure Love’ soon after, Carter is now releasing music as a solo artist with his backing band ‘The Rattlesnakes’. And if the ‘Rotten EP’ released in May 2015 was the warning shot, then debut album ‘Blossom’ released later that year was a full scale assault. An assault that Carter is all too happy to bring to his live shows, as his antics on stage have built him up quite the reputation. However tonight, as he goes on stage to play to the sold out crowd at The Haunt, it’s clear that something isn’t quite right.
Once the lights dim and a cheer goes up from the crowd, the band launch into Primary Explosive taken from their debut LP. Whilst initially Frank bounds around the stage captivating the crowd in his usual manner, it’s not long before he steadies himself and stops singing completely. Whilst initially this was construed to be an opportunity for the fans to sing the lyrics that they’ve come to know and love, the pause from Frank goes on a little too long for it to be completely intentional.
After powering through Loss and Trouble to much enthusiasm, Frank finally takes a moment to apologise. ‘I woke up this morning feeling like one of those pigs that David Cameron had a go on’, he admits with a wry grin on his face, determined not to let his illness get the better of him. And for the next performance of crowd favourite Fangs you’d hardly believe he was ill, as he attacks the mic like a man with a vengeance, venting all his anger from his current condition into the music.
After another quick apology they dive into Devil Inside Me, a flurry of power chords and booming drums with Carter’s trademark scratchy vocals over the top. However these vocals don’t last long as he is soon forced to exit the stage leaving the fans and band to carry on for him. As the crowd chants for his return he eventually re-emerges, to perform a particularly sincere version of Beautiful Death, after which he recruits a fan from the crowd to carry on for him.
Whilst watching the show it was clear one job you don’t want is to be the Rattlesnakes’ roadie, who was probably the unhappiest person in the gig venue that evening (which is saying something when the frontman of the band you’re working for is taking periodic breaks to violently vomit off stage). Whether he was ejecting stage invaders, making sure the amps didn’t fall over or diving to protect the band’s gear from incoming bodies being thrown out of the mosh pit, he certainly had his work cut out for him. Things only escalated when Frank left the stage to be replaced by a fan from the crowd who gave surprisingly heavy vocals for the song Juggernaut. It wasn’t long before mic stands were lost in the sea of people and the enigmatic new frontman was jumping off of a stack of amps into the pool of human bodies below.
Frank appears for a final time to go through vile anthem I Hate You, much to the crowd’s delight. He is reserved in his performance, but the crowd certainly aren’t as they send the words he sings back towards the stage as loud as they can. Frank sings with genuine hate, not towards any person but towards the current situation at hand. As the song ends he apologises for the last time, and then throws his microphone to the floor in frustration before storming off stage.
While Frank was clearly ill and very apologetic throughout the night, the Rattlesnakes still managed to put on a good show, helped in part to the enthusiasm of the dedicated fans. Every grimace and gut wrenching heave that Frank was unfortunate enough to make on stage was immediately met with support from his fans. Even when Carter was unable to sing, the crowd jumped in singing at the top of their lungs meaning he didn’t have to. Whilst he may have been uncharacteristically reserved, in actuality this gig really stood as testament to the enduring spirit from the ever faithful fans of Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes. Before he left Frank issued a promise to return to Brighton with a vengeance, and speaking for the crowd of attendees there, we can’t wait.
Words by Matt Austin
Photos by Lizzie Walsom-Brock