Wednesday, December 1, 2010

TUNBRIDGE IS THE REASON: GALLOWS, FEED THE RHINO, POLAR, MAN HANDS


Frank Carter - Gallows
Tunbridge Wells Forum

November 29

From the stories I’d heard, I was expecting a real nasty piece of work. “An ‘orrible cunt,” to quote Bricktop… I expected hate, bile and mayhem. I imagined Frank Carter leaping from the stage, smashing my camera and punching my teeth in. Truth is, he’s a funny fucker!

In-between songs, never running out of things to say, Carter came across as likable, witty and 100% dedicated to the cause, thanking everyone from the support bands to the sound guys – “because they’re the real rock stars.” And burning everyone from Bullet For My Valentine to Korn.


The opening bands showed off just how well-travelled and rehearsed Gallows are as a touring machine. “Massive tune, massive tune,” said the guy next to me, after every song. It doesn’t matter what music you’re into, Gallows are compelling. Explosive. Larger than life. And Frank Carter’s a showman. Intense. A natural performer.

Man Hands went on first, featuring November Coming Fire vocalist Gareth Evans on Man Vocals. “I don’t have a lot to say,” he said, followed by a lengthy rant about not “sitting home and smoking weed.” “That’s not cool, man. Go out there and support local shows. Otherwise we have to drive into that shit-hole London.”

Man Hands’ sound is a jarring blend of psychotic spazz rock and hardcore punk. Their songs are all about 15 seconds long and end before you know they’ve even started. Banter between songs was non-existent. Instead, it just seemed like four dudes (no bass guitar) shouting at a room full of strangers for about fifteen minutes. But the drummer’s a Jedi master.


Adam Woodford - Polar

Up next, Polar got people going. Frontman Adam Woodford jumped around the Forum like a Jack Russell with his toes on fire. Compared to Man Hands, Polar’s sound was a lot more digestible. More “traditional” sounding hardcore, delivered with enthusiasm. At one point, guitarist Max O’Neill rocked out so hard he fell backwards into his amp, the smile never leaving his face.

Feed the Rhino was on next. And straight away, they looked the part. Wearing a “go hard or go home” t-shirt, frontman Lee Tobin tried his best to get the crowd riled up. And mostly, he succeeded. But something about his stage presence rubbed me the wrong way. I didn’t find myself on his side at all. It just seemed like he was shouting at people, the whole time spraying them with water like he was in Metallica or something – a very unlikable frontman.

Feed the Rhino's sound is pretty straightforward as well. Everything's in the right place, but nothing grabs you. And at this stage, all I wanted was Gallows! I went to the back and bought one of their shirts, served by bassist Stuart Gili-Ross and guitarist Laurent Barnard – who was taking Movember to all new levels of wax-manipulated extremity.



Suddenly, there they were. Just like all the videos and magazines. Frank Carter was on stage, a black hood over his head, his tattooed hand wrapped around his microphone with venom. It was pretty surreal. The Tunbridge Wells Forum is tiny. And here’s Gallows, tearing it apart.


Gili-Ross launched himself into the crowd after the first song. He disappeared to the ground, before being miraculously resurrected by an appreciative front row. Albeit, with a new dent in his forehead. “We nearly lost a bassist there,” said Frank Carter.

During (and after) the show, Carter went out of his way to thank everyone. The crowd, security, the sound guys, the organisers and the other bands, “Buy their t-shirts, go to their shows, ‘cos fuck knows you’re not going to buy their records. And stop listening to Bullet For My Valentine and all that bollocks!”

Towards the end, Gili-Ross challenged the crowd’s lack of stage dives. “This kid can’t even spell stage dive,” joked Carter. Adding, “Don’t be that dickhead that moves out the way. Catch ‘em. This ain’t a Korn show.” And that’s all the motivation the crowd needed. Suddenly, the stage was under siege. Bodies were flying everywhere. Not to be outdone, Carter waltzed over to the back of the room, climbed the balcony and leapt off, crowd surfing his way back to the stage and exploding all over again. What a band! What a frontman!

Gallows are playing Grey Britain in its entirety at the Electric Ballroom on December 17. And if that’s not enough, they’re playing Orchestra of Wolves at Dingwalls earlier in the day.



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