Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes | Black Futures – 21st February 2019 – Newcastle Think Tank – Review and photos
Feature by Graeme J. Baty
It is hard to believe it’s been three and a half years since the last time I saw Frank Carter (see that feature here). That was at The Cluny and was a very extraordinary night, a blend of utter chaos and sheer rock ‘n’ roll fun, it seemed like the band were on the cusp of a huge breakthrough and they were enjoying every moment of it. Now in 2019, they return to Newcastle as part of a run of intimate UK shows in the same vein as the Cluny, back before their popularity exploded.
It’s a nice chance for fans who missed the early days to see them in the most ideal setting which allows them to get up close and connect to their audience. There is something quite detaching about larger scale shows and I think that’s the point of these gigs, since they play huge venues and festivals now, they want to re-establish that connection to the fans and be in the thick of the action. It’s an experience to behold.
There’s an air of excitement and maybe a little tension in the air as the venue begins to fill. Black Futures opened, I believe it was supposed to be Estrons but a recent implosion meant they have called it a day. I knew very little of Black Futures other than people struggle to explain their sound due to the incredible diversity of their material. Intriguing!
Watching the band I was struck with how brave FC and TR are for bringing this band on tour with them. They are fucking incredible and surely no band would like to follow them? Such a powerful act as just a two piece but they bring in some performers decked in dust suits and sunglasses, waving flags to help engage the crowd and add an air of mystery to the show. It really reminded me of Ministry, particularly when they burst in the first song of the set (a song called ‘Love’ I believe, could be wrong) which has a highly anarchic industrial vibe to it. Just when you think you’ve figured this band out hey jump sounds and pummel you with Trance a beautiful power pop number. Simply put they are one of the best acts I’ve seen in many years. A separate photo feature will follow for their set 🙂
Think Tank has to be the most perfect small venue for Frank Carter, with its close tight space, low stage and relaxed approach to hardcore shows. The band and the audience can go there and know they’ll be looked after and go wild (within reason of course), everyone is there for a good time and that’s what we get. Tonight is a first for me, I’ve never seen a barrier in this venue but as soon as the music started it became apparent why, with waves of crowd surfers cascading over the crowd and safely over barrier, a good call!
No one can hold the audience in the palm of their hand quite like Frank Carter. Phones aloft, fans enjoying every moment of this rare chance to get up close and personal with the band. With fans screaming the lyrics back to him, he seemed utterly in his element, loving every moment. Master of ceremonies, orchestrator of the chaos encouraging fans to crowd surf and look after each other. Defusing any male testosterone and crowd killing stupidity, gigs should be like this, go wild, look after each other and have a great time. It was great to see people doing just that and also to see Frank encourage a few female first-time crowd surfers. Just a brilliant atmosphere to witness.
Frank took some timeout to discuss Anxiety and it was quite an eye-opening experience to see how many people raised their hands when asked how many people had been affected by it. That’s the magic of live music, it brings you all together and although I’m also struggling with my own anxiety (I nearly didn’t make this gig due to it) it made me appreciate the power of music and the sheer delight that can be had just by letting go for a few hours at a concert.
The setlist is a mixed bag of songs covering their first two albums and some material from their upcoming 2019 album End of Suffering, they opened by bursting into Crowbar from it. They’d actually play that one twice, a trick that they’ve done before and it gets a great reaction from the crowd. Dedicating Tyrant Lizard King to Theresa May raised a great laugh!
Juggernaut got an airing tonight. Apparently, they’ve been leaving this out of the setlist on purpose to see if they can get by without it. I’m sure they can but I was buzzing to hear it.
I must admit I’ve lost touch with the music after the first album. The cathartic release of the Blossom album really appealed to me and the music that followed is much more rounded and anthemic, more in tune with Pure Love than say his hardcore roots. In a live setting, the songs are incredibly powerful and a Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes gig is hugely potent, inspiring and exhilarating. They are quite rightly considered as one of the best live bands on the planet.
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