Photo Credit: Alex Thompson
I’ve always been an advocate for the big act in a small venue formula and Frank Carter playing Fibbers was no exception, there’s something surreal about the punk rock titan hanging off the lighting rig in the same venue that hosts Throwback Thursdays. The crowd is your typical Frank Carter fans: teenage girls in Nirvana t-shirts with too much eyeliner filled the dance floor while ageing ‘punks’ (with hairlines receding faster than their youth) stood at the back of the venue cradling vapes. An opening set from Black Futures channelling everything from Nine Inch Nails to Slaves seemed promising, with a unique and abrasive industrial style that was immediately undercut by the appearance of backing dancers in full forensic oversuits and masks, looking like extras from a low budget crime drama and dancing like they belonged at a completely different gig.
Beginning the set with the moody and atmospheric ‘Crowbar’, Carter and Co swaggered through their biggest hits with trademark cathartic rage. From crowd surfing microphone in hand during ‘Lullaby’ to hanging from the lighting rig over a moshing crowd like a heavily tattooed, ginger bat, it was chaos. Ending with fan favourite ‘I Hate You’ (lovingly dedicated to Theresa May), Carter initiated a bizarre sing-along with the whole of Fibbers chanting “you are a useless fucking cunt”. It’s easy to see why the reckless energy of Frank Carter draws such a huge following, there’s something cathartic about all the madness taking place on stage. Songs that hadn’t impressed me on studio recordings took on new life in this chaotic yet intimate gig and despite my snobby attitude towards the generic quality of the songs, I found myself occasionally enjoying them. It really goes to show how much stage present can transform a musician. This is not to say that the show was without flaws. I love stage banter and monologues but in this case they were so drawn out that it killed off much of the momentum built from the explosive crowd-pleasers that filled the set. The edginess of the set was also undercut by the fortunately infrequent reappearance of those irritating backing dancers in forensic oversuits who served to make parts of the set feel like an awkward GCSE drama performance. It wasn’t by any means a perfect show but for the sheer furious energy I couldn’t help but enjoy it.