Frank Carter can rail all he likes against fans making idols of bands but if he’s a subject of adulation it’s no doubt a result of his thrillingly visceral and menacingly charismatic performances. If there’s a single reason why Gallows have been embraced (if a little cautiously) by mainstream indie and won plays on Radio 1 daytime it’s the force of of his personality. Is he uncomfortable with the constant acclaim his band have garnered or is he wary of suffering a backlash having signed a recent big deal in the States?Either way, there was no wariness on show here. The band slipped unprepossessingly onto the stage and from then on it was the Carter Show as the whip-thin singer twitched and flicked around centre-stage, almost an extension of his mic chord. His stage presence is reminiscent of Keith Flint’s but with the cartoon menace replaced with threats of flick-knives in dark alleys.
There were early outings for ‘Come Friendly Bombs’ and ‘Kill The Rhythm’, the latter provoking a scream of recognition from the crowd louder still than the noise being produced on stage. The band were tight with Lee Barrett impressive on drums and the trio of guitarists churning up punishing torrents of sound.
As good as the rest of the band were, the show was all about their frontman. An undoubted star, he was a bundle of barely contained furious energy as he prowled, spat and provoked – thanking the crowd profusely one minute, laying into them the next. Not content with owning the stage he performed ‘Sick of Feeling Sick’ and ‘In The Belly Of A Shark’ while clambering round the length of the balcony above the heads of the crowd.
From his perch he berated the audience as “sheep” but later on he put their obedience to good use before ‘Abandon Ship’, making like Moses and parting the crowd for what must’ve been the biggest circle pit the Academy has seen.
A cursory exit from the stage allowed some respite before a run through of an early demo. This was followed by their recent single, a cover of The Ruts’ ‘Staring At The Rude Boys’, during which Carter dived into the crowd having removed his t-shirt, shoes and belt. Very sensible, considering in Norwich the night before the crowd had nicked his shoes.
The show ended with his appeal to not to put bands up on pedestals. The mesmerised flock cheered diligently and promptly ignored him – after a thundering ‘Orchestra Of Wolves’ Carter returned from his second sortie into the crowd missing a sock. After a clamour for the remaining one Frank Carter left the stage to rapturous applause – slightly bemused and very barefoot.