Live Review: Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes – Manchester

Live Review: Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes – The Academy, Manchester
25th November 2021
Words: Dan Barnes

I was incredibly disappointed when this date was announced as I already had tickets for Sepultura’s shindig with Sacred Reich and Crowbar at the Ritz that evening. But it’s an ill wind that blows no one any good, so the inevitable postponement of the Sep show meant I was straight onto the interwebs to procure a ticket.

The last time I saw Frank, et al was in December 2017 when the band was promoting its Modern Ruin album and, without resorting to hyperbole, The Rattlesnakes delivered one of the best live shows I’ve ever seen. It was a masterclass of power and precision, as Frank held fifteen hundred utterly captivated people in the palm of his hand. Walking into the Academy my obvious concern was whether this show would be able to live up to the memory of that night.

On the surface of it the support on this tour may seem a little strange, certainly the opening act, Lynks – an industrial EDM three-piece of two female dancers and a vocalist in a gimp mask. Elliot Brett, the man behind the leather and zips, even makes the tongue-in-cheek comment that their booking as The Rattlesnakes’ support was too much of an obviously safe choice.

Second support was from Cassyette, again a three piece, but one more in keeping with the overall musical aesthetic of the evening. Pummelling punk rhythms mixed with some electro pop sensibilities; Cassyette’s undeniably impressive vocal range gives her something of a Maria Brink sound when she hits those high screeches; and plenty of melodic hooks to defuse the high energy.

I’ve been a big fan of Frank Carter’s work for many years, back to his time fronting Gallows and still, to this day, maintain that Grey Britain was the best album released in 2009. Although a conscious decision to move away from the Gallows’ sound, I have a lot of time for the 2013 Pure Love album, Anthems as it forms the bridge from Gallows to the work with The Rattlesnakes.

Sporting the wounds of war in the form of a fractured elbow suffered on the first night of the tour does not hamper the energy or aggression flooding from Mr Carter this evening. The Rattlesnakes love Manchester, it’s their home from home, and the passion injected into opening song, My Town, certainly underscores that. Added to that is the fact that this is the last night of the tour and the only predictable thing you can say with any certainty is that it’s going to get chaotic very quickly.

As ever, Wild Flowers is dedicated to the ladies in the crowd and they are afforded their own safe-space pit from which anyone sporting a Y chromosome is barred. “Who the fuck crowd surfs between songs?” asks Frank as an inter-music body floats atop the melee. Seemingly inspired, Frank himself ventures out and delivers the whole of Rat Race while held aloft. Drawback being he loses his in-ear monitors and battery pack while so doing and they have to be rescued by the audience.

We’re barely six songs in and the fear that the show in December 2017 would not be lived up to is a distant memory. The touchpaper has been lit and the Academy is about to get raucous and just a little bit dangerous but in the safest manner possible.

The seemingly odd choice of support acts is clarified when you consider both Lynks and Cassyette feature on latest record, Sticky so, naturally, make appearances during the live set. Cassyette lends her voice to the live version of Off with His Head and is later seen crowd surfing to Lullaby. Lynks, who features on the recorded versions of Bang, Bang and Get a Tattoo repeats his contribution, taking to the stage in what looks like a bedazzled all-over tight-fitting devil costume. He’s soon joined by the other members of his band and the stage comes to resemble Devin’s stage during the insanity of the Retinal Circus.

After a massively slamming version of Juggernaut which, by all accounts, was not even on the set list for the show tonight, the band leave the stage, only to return, Frank’s shirt gone, for an encore of Angel Wings, Crowbar and Original Sin. For this last song, Frank asks that people climb on someone else’s shoulders – I didn’t myself as there didn’t look like many people who’d be happy hoisting eighteen stone into the air – for one of the most surreal climaxes to any show you’ve seen.

After that, the question I have to ask myself is how this show compared to the 2017 gig? Balancing up the primacy vs recency affects then I’ve got to conclude it was a tie and that Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes are unable to deliver anything less than a full-on rock show.

Don’t believe me? Catch ‘em on the next tour and see for yourself.

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