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Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes / The Mysterines, Manchester Academy. 9th February 2024

It’s already busy as I walk into the Academy tonight. A good sign that people have made more effort than me. I miss the first support, Hot Wax, but no way I’m missing The Mysterines. The lights go down as I get in position. The stage is bathed in venomous red and Callum draws a bow across his guitar. Lia wields a tambourine, but that’s not what’s about to grab this crowd, it’s her voice. I’ve seen this lot a fair few times and I’m still blown away every time I hear her sing. ‘The Last Dance’ is a teasing slow burner, sliding out of the speakers as the lights probe the room. ‘Goodbye Sunshine’ kicks up a gear with its brooding menace. Before ‘Dangerous’ starts the build. I’m totally sold, but it’s an unusual feeling to be stood in a crowd watching them and not getting bounced around. This is a punk crowd after all, but there’s a lot of bodies standing still. There’s a decent roar as each song finishes though and ‘All These Things’ does get the sea of bald heads nodding and I’ve heard a few bits of praise whispered around me. They sound great and it’s a brilliant albeit short set, but they do find room for new songs like ‘Stray’, which sounds deep, dark and an exciting indication of where the second album might be headed. I’m convinced the sound guy has had them on a leash all set, but he gives them a little slack as they finish with ‘Hung Up’ and get to show just how powerful they are.


Speaking of powerful. It’s time for Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes, which I hope isn’t a shock for the bloke stood in front of me with a Frank Turner shirt on. Now with long flowing locks, our Frank looks a bit different from the Gallows days and although there’s more dare I say it tenderness in the current sound, it’s more than capable of taking your head clean off. Frank may be dressed as a lounge lizard, reminding me of Alex Turner’s crooner routine (these names are overlapping) and there’s a heavy dose of theatrics, but ‘Can I Take You Home’ has a helluva kick up its sleeve. “Who wants to dance?” Frank asks as ‘Self Love’s sultry sounds slithers off the stage. The breadth of their sound is impressive, from the slower numbers to the anthemic bangers that threaten to tear the roof off. The collective arms are up with everyone singing along and I’m glad the crowd have woken up, I was getting a little cold! Speaking of which. It’s not raining outside for once, but lightening and rain effects introduce ‘Devil Inside Me’ with its pounding bass riffs and thunderous drums. It goes off as Frank starts his orchestration. He does this well, working the stage and the crowd. You know the drill, everyone get down and wait for the beer to fly. “I'm a punk rock renegade. Tattooed motherfucker, ripping lust for a decade and you are my punk rock queen, champagne bleach blonde laser beam” is a brilliant opening line to ‘Kitty Sucker’ which itself is a great song and a clear flag bearer for this sound. These songs are designed for mass singalongs and big rooms and this is a big room. They’re totally at ease and clearly revelling in it. Both guitarists spending half their time up on the monitors as much as Frank, dripping with sweat and smiles. ‘Wild Flowers’ features the well rehearsed but always wonderful female only moss pit as they go for the jugular. ‘Tyrant Lizard King’ keeping up the pace, it’s a bouncy melody cloaked in brutal bass and feedback. Frank looks like he’s having a blast, I think everyone is. “This one’s for you Manchester” introduces ‘My Town’ although I suspect they say that in every city, but it still gets raucous down the front, as phones come out at the back. The energy soon permeates the room though, leaving the bald heads looking both shocked and delighted. I’m having a laugh of course, it’s actually a very varied crowd. Franks jacket is off for ‘Cupids Arrow’ that precedes ‘Sun Bright Golden Happening’ off the new record, which hasn’t quite grabbed me yet, but I’m sure it will. Even though it’s a broad set, there’s a real sense of Dark Rainbow setting the tone tonight. ‘Superstar’ does the quiet/loud thing, but not that quiet and really fucking loud. Frank living up to the title, now in a white dress shirt, arms spread wide, soaking up the love. It’s powerful! Nothing matches ‘Crowbar’ though. What a monster. The lighting guy clearly loves it too as every switch is thrown and the whole band are bound together in a glorious collective fit. I think this was my highlight last time and it is once again. The chorus hits you like its name, a shot of adrenaline and the rush is magnificent. ‘Go Get a Tattoo’ is much more punky, with lyrics almost spat out in a frenzy “It's 2am, fuck it, I'm getting a tattoo. That shows I love all the same shit that you do”. If I was cold earlier, I’m certainly not now. We need calming down. Sort of. ‘Lullaby’ gets dedicated to Franks daughter, as he encourages the room “front to back” to bounce. It doesn’t quite happen, maybe everyone’s knackered, but we’re in fine voice and there’s plenty of crowd surfing in the pit. Shirt off, it’s time for prizefighter Frank with ‘Happier Times’ that features its own stripped back acoustic midsection. Frank proving he’s got a bloody good voice, not just for the heavy stuff. ‘Original Sin’ then goes ballistic. Frank’s in the crowd standing on shoulders and pulling off an impressive handstand. You don’t see that everyday, I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before to think of it, after hundreds of gigs, but then this isn’t an everyday band. ‘Thunder’ ushers in the encore, before ‘I Hate You’ detonates. This has to be one of the most wonderfully bleak songs in the set, or any set! Devastatingly arch, unapologetically fun. Frank doesn’t need to sing. We’ve got him covered. It’s a moment and would be a fitting finale, but that honour goes to ‘Man of the Hour’ with Frank basking in the adulation, blowing kisses, in no hurry to end the night. All good things do though don’t they, but ending triumphantly, that’s the way to do it. Whether he'd made a mistake or not, I'm sure that Frank Turner fan loved it!


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