“Right shoulder injury. Rotator cuff. Will pour the pain into the delivery. Lucky you”. Stoic words from Frank Carter via Instagram Stories just a few hours before he is due on stage at Rough Trade with his third musical formation The Rattlesnakes (following Gallows and Pure Love). The lesser dedicated fans in the vicinity might take this news badly. With live performances renowned for being furiously raucous, could Frank’s injury impede his intrepid capabilities? Don’t be daft.
Bursting on stage to a besotted and swelling crowd, they deliver two new tracks first – Why a Butterfly Can’t Love a Spider and Tyrant Lizard King – in typical pounding form. They’re here to celebrate the release of third album End of Suffering, which addresses everything from heartbreak to battles with mental health. Maintaining the same fearless heavy punk rock spirit as flexed on previous albums Modern Ruin and Blossom, the new album traverses unprecedented raw human territory.
By the time they unveil 2017 hit Vampires, Frank sheds the confines of the stage - shoulder injury or no shoulder injury. Referring to the new camo netting covering the ceiling of Rough Trade’s bar space, Frank deduces the motive: “Looks like they’ve put that up to stop me putting my foot through the roof again”. They’ve become quite the riotous attraction over the past few visits (we’ve heard his footprints are still on the ceiling from their last show).
Tonight is no different, as he puts his life in the hands of the front cluster to crowd surf whilst standing virtually upright. Next comes Heartbreaker, Wild Flowers and Kitty Sucker, to which a circle pit engulfs the gig space and adjoining bar in one fell swoop. Love Games follows, a fantastically funky and punky new number which massively showcases the talents of the wider band. It takes real balls to wade off stage the way Frank does tonight - both on the floor and atop the crowd - marauding his way around whilst keeping his singing frenzied yet tight.
By the time Frank returns to the stage, The Rattlesnakes slam the brakes on. Anxiety and Angel Wings are heavy, slow and unashamedly about struggling with yourself – “take the pain out of yourself…talk to people….and walk away”, Frank proclaims in such a way that elicits waves of sweaty solidarity from the audience.
But the break is soon over, as Juggernauts forces its way out with animalistic anger, setting the tone for the remainder of the set - which clocks in at well over an hour, far longer than a typical Rough Trade in-store show. “I’m soaked in other peoples' sweat. It’s disgusting and I’m ashamed of myself”, Frank declares after Crowbar, one of the most anthemic numbers from the new album.
While Frank may be a marmite character on the rock scene, you certainly can’t deny his unwavering aura when storytelling. It’s pretty humbling too: “Without you we’re just having an expensive band practise”, he says before thanking the fans with an ardent and unrivalled sincerity. Tonight’s performance has been similarly standout; you’d be hard-pushed to find a frontman capable of whipping a crowd up into a frenzy, or talking quite so candidly, as Frank Carter.
Frank Carter and The Rattlesnakes played Rough Trade Nottingham on Saturday 4 May.