Thursday, July 19, 2012

Pure Love / Chain Of Flowers @ The Glee Club, Wednesday 18th July

Oooooooh what a feeling...when you’re dancing on the ceiling. Okay, Lionel may have sung about it but tonight Frank Carter actually did it, carried aloft by a hundred adoring hands. Pure Love and Chain of Flowers (tonight’s support band) may sound more like a couple of ‘bodice rippers’ from Mills & Boon rather than new projects from punk/screamcore stalwarts but that’s not entirely inappropriate given the fact that a sizeable portion of the audience left the venue with their hearts all a flutter. That may have been down to getting royally mashed in the pit but could feel the love people, you could feel the love.

First up Chain Of Flowers featuring members of Welsh punk rockers Brutality Will Prevail and metal punkers Crossbreaker. There’s a whiff of 80s rock goth in the mix here (The Mission, Sisters of Mercy...all that lot), especially in the layered squalls of guitar and slightly portentous vocals. The other obvious head nod goes to The Cure (surely the source of the band’s name), with the lead singer channelling his inner Bob (with just a hint of Mozza in there too...nice). Pick of the set, Sleep, was the most Cure-like...albeit a Cure that had been down the gym for a month or two then popped into Spoonies for a swift pint or six of Old Rosie. If you’re in any doubt of the band’s love for the 80s the fact that they’ve just released a single on tape (do they still make tapes these days?) should seal the deal. Great stuff. The new gothgaze revolution starts here.

After making their live debut on this year’s Valentine’s Day (awwwww bless ‘em) opinion was divided on Frank’s new direction. Shelving the larynx shedding vocals of his old band, Gallows (now fronted by ex Alexisonfire singer Wade MacNeil), he has, in his own words “learned to sing”. The music’s changed too, from the kind of sound that strips paint off doors to a...whisper it...slightly more commercial...rock sound with pounding drums and riff-tastic guitars. Inevitably this is going to both gain and lose fans (much more of the former I reckon) but if you’ve witnessed some of the mayhem that surrounded latter Gallows gigs you can’t blame him for wanting to chill things out a bit. Of course a more chilled out Frank is still a nut bustingly powerful proposition and from the outset it was clear that he’s retained that brooding stage presence and ‘give it all you’ve got...then give a bit more’ attitude that marked Gallows out as something truly special. Coming onstage carrying 5 beers it seemed as though Frank had hit the bottle (he’s notably abstemious when it comes to alcohol), but he gave them away to the crowd instead. A nice touch. It wasn’t long before Frank joined them, circled by the faithful who showed remarkable restraint...well for one song at least. After introducing Anthem (dedicated to fellow tattooist Jordon who’s just been run over in the US...there’s a Frank endorsed appeal to help pay his medical bills right here) it all kicked off with Frank launching himself headfirst from a table straight into the crowd. What followed was a furious whirlwind of bodies, limbs, tongues, sweat...all whipped up into a frenzy culminating in Frank literally raising the roof...well a ceiling tile or two anyway.

Bollocks to bottling the atmosphere at the recent Stone Roses gig (yep, someone actually did that and then popped it on eBay) if you could harness the energy from tonight you’d solve the energy crisis. Of course Frank’s not the only frontman to get down and dirty with his audience but he genuinely seems to get a real buzz from it, feeding off that energy to ratchet up his own performance a notch or two. It worked. New single (and the band’s best track to date) Handsome Devil’s Club threatened to see several dozen people spontaneously combust moving Frank to observe (during a brief moment of calm) “Never has a band playing only its eighth gig got such a reaction”.

Of course there were plenty of hardcore Gallows fans here but still, most bands would willingly sacrifice a drummer or two to get this kind of response. It was a short set (40 minutes or so), as you’d expect for a group still its infancy, and most of the tracks were new to the crowd but that only served to make the whole night more special somehow. When audience and band connect like this there’s only one way to describe it. Pure Love.

Photograph courtesy of Mr Andy Watson of Drw-Images

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