… with Chain Of Flowers and River City Ransom
Date: 25 July 2012
Venue: The Duchess, York
The former hardcore band front man Frank Carter announced his departure from punk band Gallows last year, fans have been waiting to see what he would be doing next. The answer is not what you expect…
RIVER CITY RANSOM ****
Opening the proceedings tonight are River City Ransom. A 5 piece post-hardcore band from our hometown of York. With their dual vocalist approach they fill the shoes left behind by bands such as Alexisonfire, We Are The Ocean and Deaf Havana. The loud/quiet dynamics of singing and screaming works well with Zak Ford and Adam Oliver playing off each other brilliantly. It’s clear to see these guys have been polishing this craft to near perfection, it’s bands like this that are saving the post-hardcore scene from extinction.
CHAIN OF FLOWERS ****
From the outset Chain of Flowers sound could not be further from the post-hardcore aggression of RCR. Using keyboards, echos and atmospherics that wouldn’t be out of place alongside 80s bands such as The Police, The Cure and The Smiths. This is not to say they are old fashioned, they grace the stage with confidence and conviction with a library of great songs to back this up.
PURE LOVE *****
Having never seen Frank Carter live in Gallows or Pure Love I didn’t know what to expect. In his early days I had heard of fights and brawls breaking out at many of his gigs. Violence and aggression seemed to be a way of life for Frank which he also outlet through his gravelly, bordering on unrecognisable, vocal style on stage.
This could not be further from the man we see today. Songs with lyrics like “I’m so sick of singing about hate. It’s time that I made a change.” Gone are the hardcore screams and songs about heartache, pain and misery. And in place are well written, catchy rock songs about love. So catchy and upbeat in fact, they are almost treading in pop territory. It’s clear to see he is happy, an emotion that was absent from his life in Gallows.
Half way through a set of material that no one had heard before one thing was for certain. Frank is the most charismatic frontman I’ve ever seen. Coming off the stage to sing ‘Beach of Diamonds’ a ballad, yes a ballad, which he dedicated to his fiancé. “I’m a changed man!” he says smiling.
Frank dominates the stage and engages the crowd. His effortless showmanship is a thing to behold. Even in a small venue like The Duchess you feel like you are witnessing something special. But the other half of Pure love is former Hope Conspiracy guitarist Jim Carroll. Even though both are from hardcore-punk backgrounds, they have crafted a unique blend of pop and rock with catchy choruses, hooks and a familiarity making them easily accessible, sure to make Frank and Jim’s new outfit a household name in the future.
“We’re gonna play this one at Wembley next year!” the singer jokes with the crowd. High aims, but not out of reach. It’s not a far cry from what Plan B achieved when shifting from the underground-rap scene to soul music with his crossover album ‘The Defamation of Strickland Banks’.
Before Pure Love play there last song, Frank addresses the crowd “Guys! It’s time to make a big fucking circle!”. It seemed that Frank hadn’t changed that much, with some of the crowd in the centre forming a moshpit.
“Oi! Get the fuck out of the way!” he shouts in jest. “How are we supposed to play down there if you’re in the way?” What?!?! Within what seemed a few seconds the band, guitars and drums were all in the middle of The Duchess and with the crowd surrounding them, they continued to play their grand finale of, not only the night, but the whole tour with an outstanding yet intimate performance.
Although I couldn’t tell you the names of the songs played or know any of the words, what I can tell you is that Frank was true to his word…
“Even though you don’t know these songs you’re gonna have a fucking good time!”
And he was right. We certainly did.