Frank Carter and The Rattlesnakes, The Mysterines, Hot Wax. Leeds Academy 13.02.2024.

The expectations around the new Frank Carter album, Dark Rainbow, and it’s live outing together with the bands reputation for incendiary live shows meant this was always going to be a busy one. Add in two quality supports and there really was a feeling that this could, potentially, be one of those gigs you remember for a long, long time. We weren’t disappointed.  

Openers Hot Wax have been building a well deserved reputation for hard hitting live shows in smaller venues. Tonight they prove they can do it in much bigger spaces. Some here will have heard of them before, most won’t have but will certainly have them on their musical radar from now on. Hot Wax deliver a blistering 30 minutes of pummelling, bass driven, fuzzy, grungy rock n roll. Opening with a new song is brave but it hits the spot before they launch into the power-funk of ‘E Flat’, the slicing guitar work of ‘Phone Machine’ and the perfect driving force of ‘Treasure’. This is a sizeable stage for a three piece but they absolutely dominate it both with their sounds and their presence. When she’s not screeching out vocals Tallulah Sim-Savage wanders the stage, slashing guitar riffs, with a confidence that states clearly “This is us and we’re going to be around for a long time”. All the while Lola Sam on bass throws the rock star poses, snarling backing vocals and a huge rumbling sound that compliments perfectly the pounding drums from Alfie Sayers.

They close a perfect start to the night with the explosive ‘Barbie (Not Yours)’, ‘High Tea’ and ‘Rip It Out’,  all three perfect examples of what Hot Wax do so well – calm, almost poppy introductions that erupt into an insane cacophony of noise and anger. Hard to believe Hot Wax have yet to hit their 20’s and proof, once again, that anyone who says today’s music scene is bland just needs to look a little harder.

Hot Wax headline their own UK tour in April – catch them in some small, intimate venues while you can – before appearing at a number of summer festivals.

Rapidly becoming a big name themselves Liverpool’s The Mysterines bring an altogether less manic soundscape to the proceedings. Dominated by slick, indie guitar sounds and the powerful presence and voice of Lia Metcalf 2022 album ‘Reeling’ was a highlight of the year. Live they’re a well oiled machine, every sound gelling together perfectly whilst the dark, deep vocals and stage wandering of Metcalf grip your attention. They open with new(ish) song ‘The Last Dance’ and follow it with another unreleased track ‘Goodbye Sunshine’. Both bode well for a new album, songs full of mystery, atmosphere and the potential to fill huge venues.  ‘Dangerous’, latest single ‘Begin Again’ and All These Things’ follow, these being the songs that fans in the crowd know and love. Appreciation is shown with a sizeable number of people pumping the air, dancing and singing. They end with the pounding ‘Hung Up’, the song that really brought this band a much bigger following and which, tonight, sees the response it deserves from the mosh pit. Alternative music aiming to please a much wider audience than raucous punk rock. The Mysterines have absolutely nailed it.

Frank Carter and The Rattlesnakes have a well deserved reputation for incendiary live shows and all in mosh pits. Latest album ‘Dark Rainbow’ though, whilst receiving rave reviews from many is, compared to previous releases, altogether softer, more introspective with more than it’s fair share of ballads. So the question a lot were asking was would tonight be a less raucous affair than usual. It’s fair to say any doubts were completely blown away. The band stroll on with little fanfare and open with a run of three from the new release. ‘Can I Take You Home’, ‘Brambles’ and ‘Self Love’ are no less powerful for their slower beats. ‘Brambles’ in particular has an underlying bass riff that screams menace. And regardless of the tempo Frank Carter is a superb frontman. He eyeballs the audience, he smiles, he waves and he uses every inch of the stage to release his energy. Regardless of the fact these openers are the new releases Carter has the audience eating out of the palm of his hand within seconds.

Quieter numbers out of the way the furious ‘Devil Inside Me’ and mosh favourite ‘Kitty Sucker’ see the place erupt into one glorious throng of bouncing bodies. ‘Wild Flowers’ is given over to a female only pit, Frank Carter making sure there’s a safe space for them to run, jump and hammer into each other. ‘Tyrant Lizard King’ keeps the underlying menace reeling along. What Frank Carter has pulled off brilliantly tonight is the mix of hard and soft, danger, aggression, introspection, screaming punk rock, love ballads and everything in between. ‘Sun Bright Golden Happening’ sees a crowd completely lost in their own thoughts, gently swaying. Following with ‘Crowbar’ is a masterstroke – two thirds of the Academy’s ground floor become a mass of people shouting the words back, fists punching the air, absolutely bouncing. There’s no let up with ‘Go Get A Tattoo’ or ‘Lullaby’ with it’s drums absolutely pummelling the place. By now security are pulling exuberant fans over the barrier. It’s not just Frank Carter. The Rattlesnakes are tight, they’re given the space to do their thing without holding back. It’s clear they enjoy this as much as their frontman.

The main set closes with the heart wrenching ‘End Of Suffering’, the auditorium dark and charged with a different set of emotions, absolute focus on the stage, a crowd completely lost in the moment, mouthing the words back.

The band leave the stage but return quickly for a three song encore. I doubt there’s ever been a more appropriate time to play ‘Thunder’ with it’s tales of attrocities and people turning on each other. A world destroying itself with hatred when what we all really want is peace, love, acceptance and tolerance. Fan favourite ‘I Hate You’ is immense, the place filled with “I fucking hate you and I wish you would die”.

‘Dark Rainbow’s lead single ‘Man Of The Hour’ closes the night with one huge, joyful singalong.

Frank Carter wears his heart on his sleeve. He works a crowd brilliantly but he also appreciates every single one of them. Tonight George, on the front row of the balcony, is celebrating his 8th birthday. Carter makes sure he name checks him and leads the whole place singing ‘Happy Birthday’.

Powerful, emotional, heart warming, heart wrenching. Frank Carter and The Rattlesnakes delivered them all and more.

Words and photos: Steve White


Steve White

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