Gig Review by Kirsty Hillyer with Photography by Lee Allen

Frank (18 of 39)

There is always a moment when you know the band you’re about to see is on the verge of exploding. Tonight holds that moment and it’s bittersweet. It means the end to a show fuelled by raw hunger, an energy searching for acceptance and instead is replaced by a sense of arrival. Wolverhampton was the last date on the tour to sell out and is often a rarity for a Slade Rooms show, in fact Midlands dates in general. It seems us Midlanders can be lackadaisical in our approach to supporting bands passing through our fair towns; which further reinforces the magnitude of what’s next for this band.

Thee MPVs

MVPs (3 of 11)

MVPs (7 of 11)

Before we visit that precipice, tonight’s openers are London’s Thee MVPs. These DIY grafters bring a Garage, Surf sound to the evening’s proceedings. A sound they define as “Thames Pop” and whilst this charms the polite mixed bag crowd I find the rolling baselines a blur until a high pitched squeal shocks me back into the room.

Mocking References by the lead singer to being all “punk and shit”, for bleeding a little from some unknown wound and for playing a fast song, reveal how authentically gawky and awkward they really are whilst acknowledging the 77 UK punk sound embedded within their delivery. Polished and proficient they a band to see if Garage Rock is your thing, personally I wasn’t yet convinced that they offered a new perspective to the genre.

Dead!

DEAD (6 of 6)

DEAD (2 of 6)

After feeling like I’d glimpsed a past space in time we were then treated to Dead! Experiencing this band has taken up more space in my brain and life than I would prefer. Therefore please forgive me for choosing not to find out more about them to offer you context or further detailed information. They are from London and have some pretentious DIY marketing shtick about the Internet being dead, this I gleaned from their Instagram and is all you’re gonna get. A sum total of one person was excited to see them tonight; I feel a music makeover is in order.

This young band out of nowhere, exude a polish of a well-rehearsed, choreographed and styled boy band. I feel like I’m observing some manufactured reality TV show in action, as hungry wannabees play at being in a band. I suppose it worked for the Kaiser Chiefs. There lacks a humility befitting of their place on the bill and I have to wonder how this band are billed above the talented, grass root building Thee MVPs.

No one likes a weak handshake; it leaves you feeling untrustworthy and skeptical. Watching the Dead leaves you with the same feeling. The lead singer moves jarringly against their music. Whilst the lyrics are performed they lack any visceral connection and emotion to their intent. The stage feels devoid of authenticity and I’m not alone in this thinking as half of the crowd chose the bar instead.

Frank (17 of 39)

Thankfully the antithesis to this experience is imminent. Frank Carter has reclaimed his front man pedestal and he knows it, strutting on stage, arms outstretched. Frank basks in the reverence afforded him from a crowd of long time fans and new converts thanks to a year of touring and festival slots.

Frank (12 of 39)

You would think writing about Rattlesnakes and the inimitable Mr Carter would be an easy task. He is a beguiling frontman, made more so for the finesse of the statement suit he’s donned all tour. Tonight we were treated to funny, charismatic Frank, perfectly balancing a fuck off attitude with witty crowd banter. During ‘Fangs’ a drink is thrown across the crowd and they sing back with gusto before leading everyone in a chorus of Happy Birthday to a girl in the crowd and then politely telling her ‘fuck off, you’ve had your money’s worth’.

Frank (6 of 39)

Expectations for a Rattlesnakes show prompted the PSA leaflet of no stage diving and the prompts for crowd surfing antics was tempered perfectly by recognition and gratitude to the security and staff at the venue, as well as a call to arms to look after each other. However, all hands were on deck from the tour manager and the photographers in the pit as ‘Modern Ruin’ was introducing as the safety surfing song for the ladies only and they certainly stepped up in an unrelenting onslaught to the front.

Frank (19 of 39)

The crowd are putty in Frank’s hand from a crowd surfing being held, freeze framed, at his command, to an eager recipient welcoming his spit, admittedly receiving half of it in his open mouth probably wasn’t part of the plan.

Frank (20 of 39)

‘Juggernaut’ prompts Frank to make his way from the barrier, walking on top of the crowd’s shoulders to the centre of the room. A perfectly valid biblical reference could be made here, and as I enjoy the show from the outskirts of the room that level of reverence is in play tonight. I can’t decide how many people are here for the music or to see one of the UK’s best frontman in his perfectly turned out element.

Frank (23 of 39)

The personal anecdotes of family life and inspirations for songs such as ‘Lullaby’ and ‘Beautiful Death’ garner additional respect and applause from the new, having been here before I feel the words become over labored and lack the same depth of intent due to the nature of rote verbatim tour life.

Frank (25 of 39)

During ‘Paradise’ lead guitarist and fellow founder Dean Richardson plays from the centre of the pit atop someone’s shoulders, full of unbridled energy; meanwhile current drummer Gareth Grover plays whilst standing.

Frank (26 of 39)

Opening the encore with new-ish song ‘Snake Eyes’ is the defining moment of mainstream accessibility and success for this band and my bittersweet wariness for what’s next. Personally this is my least favourite Rattlesnakes song, Frank’s vocals loose any distinctive grit and it errs on the side of indie kid favourites, The Last Shadow Puppets. It feels safe and I always want Rattlesnakes to have an edge of danger or unpredictably; even ‘Lullaby’, a song for Frank’s daughter, maintains a unnerving glint. However, Frank is on fine form as he scans the room with a wry smile and knowing glint.

Frank (27 of 39)

Finishing the set with ‘Devil Inside Me’ and ‘I Hate You’ the crowd let roar in a vitriolic sing-a-long. There was only one way to end this tour and that had to be confetti cannons. Rattlesnakes are explosive as they end their set; defining the start of a new bigger chapter.

Frank (37 of 39)

See the complete photoset here.

Frank (31 of 39)

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