Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes

support God Damn
author AP date 14/10/16 venue Beta, Copenhagen, DEN

Despite enamouring thousands of people at Roskilde Festival this past summer, it turns out to be one of the tinier venues in Copenhagen’s repertoire that the meteoric Frank Carter has chosen for his first-ever club show in the city. Certainly the fact that tonight’s concert was flagged ‘sold out’ more than a month in advance suggests that the former Gallows and Pure Love vocalist and his band, the Rattlesnakes, could comfortably have played at e.g. BETA’s parent venue Amager Bio next door as well. The chance, however, to experience the group’s notorious antics in such an intimate setting is surely cherished by the fans that did manage to secure a ticket, not least this happy reviewer.

All photos courtesy of Peter Troest

God Damn

Given the inclination of God Damn’s frontman Thom Edward to venture into the audience and use the entire venue as his stage, this Wolverhampton-based trio seems like a pretty ideal support act for Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes and musically, there is enough separation between the headliner’s hardcore punk and God Damn’s noisy, White Stripes-y alternative rock to ensure the Friday’s entertainment remains varied as well. Unfortunately though, the enormous tsunami of sound emanating from Edward’s guitar has a tendency to drown all of his singing, a rare treat heard only at the very back of the venue, and during some of the quieter bits constructed into the songs. This is a shame because most of the crowd is thus forced to find the lasting value elsewhere, whether it be the frontman’s antics within the audience, the seamlessness with which the keyboardist grabs the guitar from him mid-song, or the mad glare of drummer Ash Weaver as he frenetically pounds the skins.

Indeed, to God Damn’s credit the band has this cool, laissez-faire way of doing things that really appeals to me, even if the music is not my usual ballpark. When he is not needed, the keyboardist sits languidly against the wall, tapping his foot against the floor. When Edwards’ guitar cable yanks out, his dealing with it is so casual you could be forgiven for thinking it is part of the show. All of this gives God Damn the sheen of a true rock’n’roll band, an impression amplified — literally as well as metaphorically — by the stoning final track “Skeletons”, which sees Edwards pointing his pedal board and every microphone available on stage at his pick-ups to generate a deafening conclusion to the set. How frustrating then, that whatever catchiness inherent in the songs is almost completely lost in the unbalanced mix.

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Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes

Despite the music itself being a far cry from Gallows’ fiery hardcore, the showmanship of Frank Carter in his latest project has gained a reputation as being the most vitriolic yet. Probably a sizeable portion of the attendance witnessed the band’s superb concert at Roskilde Festival in the summer, and for those that did, tonight’s proceedings follow a familiar formula in terms of the shenanigans that Carter and his mischievous compatriots get up to. The key difference is that what was already a scathing performance then, transforms into an even more rampageous display in this limited space, helped along by an audience that knows what’s up and is bristling to facilitate the little ginger’s caustic demeanour. Indeed, once we have been treated to the opening track, “Trouble”, Carter tells us that the Roskilde’ show set the benchmark for how much fun you can have at a gig, and that ever since then, the quartet has been trying to better it, or at the very least least reproduce it — apparently to no avail.

Determined to make this a legendary evening thus, Carter and his boys up the ante to such an extent that they not only better themselves, but also set a new standard for how music can be experienced live. “Trouble” may be accompanied by a ‘tame’ version of it — the band is still rocking out, doing split jumps and what not — but from then on, the show enters an upward spiral of intensity. Very little of the concert actually sees Carter on stage; his preferred arena tends to be either the top of the audience, which moshes beneath this feet whilst he fires confetti cannons at the back, or simply the ceiling. He may in fact be the first musician I’ve witnessed crowd-surfing upside down, casually imitating walking on the ceiling whilst never missing a word of his acerbic lyricism. Naturally, there is much less focus on guitarist Dean Richardson, bassist Tom Barclay and drummer Gareth Grover then, but if you look that way (as in: at the stage where the performance is supposed to be happening), you do realise that the three gentlemen are far from being wallflowers as well. No, the three dudes are baring teeth, sweating like motherf***ers to ensure Carter has a deservingly fierce band to rely on — even without the mayhem he kicks up off stage, the group’s performance would likely go down as one of the best this year.

Quite possibly however, this is to be remembered as the best concert of 2016, and not just because Carter is physically so involved in the incitation of madness. There is a warmth to the man as well that seems him stop the music and have the houselights turned on during “Juggernaut” so that a participant of the circle pit can find his lost glasses; a fragility that has us all silenced and seated as he explains the nature of loss before delivering an emotional rendition of “Beautiful Death”; a genuineness that lends conviction to his appraisal of tonight as the best show of his career. Wanting to give us something in return, he even adds the rarely played “Primary Explosive” to the setlist impromptu, and plays both “Fangs” and another song from earlier on in the set a second time in the encore. Hell, he would love nothing more than to play the entire concert again, he tells us, but the curfew keeps him from it. In many ways then, Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes play the perfect concert, hyper-energetic but never absurd; violent but also affected.

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