LIVE REVIEW: Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes @ Star & Garter

The last time Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes graced Manchester’s Star and Garter it was one of the most inspiring performances for British punk in recent memory, at a venue which at the time, seemed pretty packed. Since June however their debut album ‘Blossom’ has been released to mass critical appraisal and has introduced their furious brand of punk to the world. It’s clear fans both new and old have high expectations when 20 minutes before support band Black Hole are even set to play, the downstairs bar area is wall to wall leather jackets and tattoos.

Once the venue area itself is opened the room immediately fills to near capacity, as Hardcore punks Blackhole take the stage. I say stage, singer Richard Carter (Frank’s younger brother) performs his bands entire set from pit or “semi-circle of death” as he describes it. The band only recently reformed back in September, their fans however have clearly not forgotten them from before their five year hiatus. Starting the set with a strong dozen able bodied punks, Blackhole finish their set surrounded by a swirling mass of screaming, stomping and stagediving new fans, who take up at least the first third of the venue. Richard Carter has no issues with climbing on top of his fanatic followers and being carried all the way to the back of the venue to make sure even the most docile of the crowd are warmed up for what’s to come. Tracks come thick and fast with the band spitting some incredibly bouncy riffs to the delight of the sold out venues crowd. They finish their set with Richard making sure everyone knows “we’re Blackhole, and we’re back”.

By 9.30 the venue is completely wall to wall with people having to mind their elbows for other people’s pints. There’s a shared excitement and energy running through the crowd even before the charismatic Frank Carter takes to the stage, even in such cramped conditions. When the man himself finally does grace the stage he’s greeted by an explosion of noise from the crowd and sadly, none from his microphone. It’s testament to his abilities as a frontman that he manages to entertain a sold out venue, before even getting through a single song, simply with a classic angry punk expression that he’s perfected through the years.

As soon as all the technical problems have been worked through, the band waste no time in unleashing hell to a thrashing swarm of bouncing, pitting crowd members who are dripping with sweat by the end of the second track. How Frank manages to maintain such energy and aggressiveness through these sets every night of the tour is anyone’s guess, but it’s incredibly entertaining to witness.

Stage divers seemed to be in abundance through Blackhole’s set, but it’s nothing compared to the number of bodies the front few rows are tasked with holding up once the Rattlesnakes are in full swing. On a number of occasions there were even crowd surfers on top of other crowd surfers. One poor topless punk is unlucky enough to hit the floor relatively hard during a failed stage dive attempt, resulting in some words of wisdom from the front man conducting the madness before him. em>“Catch these motherfuckers don’t just move out of the way, you guys are supposed to be the tough ones”, the crowd laugh and are again invigorated by the energy displayed by the frontman who seems to become more and more prophet like throughout. There are times when I believe Frank could’ve asked the crowd to do just about anything and they would’ve instantly obeyed.

This control is tested as Frank makes his way to the middle of the room, surrounded by the crowd and asks them all to “take a knee”. In a packed room it’s more difficult than it sounds, but feels a small ask coming from the man responsible for the gig being the epic of frenzy it’s been so far. Frank welcomes a ‘coldplay moment’ and sings through ‘A Beautiful Death’ minus the raspily screamed chorus, which is instead traded for heartfelt passion over angered outbursts.

By the end of the set the room is roasting and about three quarters of the room have been directly involved with the pit in some way from bouncing to riffs, to stage diving, to the huge pit that makes up the front of the room. When it’s clear the set is just about done, yet fans continue to cry out for more, an amused Frank retorts “We’ve played everyone song we’ve got, we’ve played one new one and we’ve played two songs twice!”, before finishing the night with ‘I Hate You’, featuring the drums and bass being played from the middle of the room for added effect, naturally.

Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes have more than proven themselves ready for just about anything live shows have to throw at them, managing to keep an entire crowd entertained from the start of a set to the end is no easy task, especially with only one album to choose tracks from. With the new track played going down well, we can certainly expect to see Frank and the gang back before long, but I expect the next venue may be something a little larger.

Do you think Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes are the future face of British punk? Let us know at @holmesblogs or @45_magazine