Gallows – Camden Underworld

By Andy

*Venue was Bedford Esquires, not Underworld as above*

?This song?s about living in a really shit town. That?s something you guys should know all about.? Ever the charmer, Frank Carter introduces the Bedford crowd to ?London Bedford Is the Reason?, and to Gallows? ?Return to the Dives? tour, a jaunt around the UK that sees the band play much smaller venues than the past few years have allowed. Rather ironically, this particular dive ? not visited for five years now ? actually shows up a lot of those bigger venues. It may have dodgy toilets, a horrible staircase entrance and a rather suspect location, but Esquires is one of the best venues in the country. It?s a dive but it?s a damn good one.

Due to some ill advised support band absenteeism, FEED THE RHINO opens tonight?s show close to 21:00 which means there?s a decent sized audience on hand to witness the band tear through 30 minutes of brutal, chiselled, pummelling hardcore punk. It?s an uphill battle for the Kent five-piece though with a crowd that seems fully disinterested. The band itself at times seems a little too linear, yet at others it?s a raucous, not to mention impressive, barrage of forceful noise, topped off with a certainty and stage presence to match. Credit to the band for making an impact though, and enticing a handful of revellers to gesticulate and contort. This may not be a shining performance, but it?s certainly one that gets Punktastic?s attention. Second verdict required. [3/5]

?Contrary to what you may have read, GALLOWS are still here. We haven?t broken up. We?re even starting a new album.? And so, with Carter?s decree, continues the saga of the ?biggest? UK punk band for a very long time. The rise and ?fall? of the band is well chronicled of late, and this smaller tour has been feeding fires for those proclaiming the band?s demise. Tonight Punktastic doesn?t really care about the future we?re just interested to see how the band fares in more intimate surroundings. The band?s Reading festival performance this year was impressive, but how does it cope when you can see the whites of their eyes?

The answer is almost predictable, mirroring the performance Gallows puts on. From the off there?s an energy about the band that translates to an ongoing line of security-bothering crowdsurfers. In the same breath, frontman Carter is a little more reserved than normal, electing to forgo the usual expeditions over musical equipment and visits to the pit. There?s still the spitting bile attitude but some of the chaos is missing.

Of course there?s the obligatory controversial moment: a plastic beer cup is thrown at the ever volatile Carter which halts proceedings and leads to one of those will he/won?t he moments. Fortunately though Carter is satisfied with berating the culprit from stage (?I?ve got your œ15, mate,? he scathes) rather than resorting to fisticuffs. A calmed man or an apathetic viewpoint? You decide.

By now you know what the band is going to level at you. ?I Dread the Night? is the pick of the ?Grey Britain? bunch, but it?s the earlier ?Orchestra of Wolves? material that still sounds most vital. ?Will Someone Shoot That Fucking Snake? and ?In the Belly of a Shark? still have a viciousness about them, even if this is toned down a little from having been toured to death. When it comes to ?Orchestra of Wolves? itself, Carter may as well hand over vocal duties to the Bedford mass, such is the shout-along mentality. There?s a definite audience divide when it comes to the two albums; those that are vocal for the debut tend to shy off for the second, and vice versa. It?s the old hardcore/newbie split that?s been following the band as it gets bigger and bigger (and smaller?). Nothing new there then.

When it all comes to a close, hurried and without anypompous grace, you can?t help but sense a split dichotomy. There are real moments where Gallows still prove to be crucial, and on top of the game. But then there?s an equal amount of times where it?s all a little too by-the-numbers, a little too tired and weary. You can make a long list of reasons why this might be so, but the simple point is that you shouldn?t have to. But then again, there?re a couple of certainties beaconing through: firstly, has this gig taken place at one of the soulless bigger venues it would have been a dismal disappointment. Low-key is the manner in which bands like Gallows should be seen. Secondly, it?s still hard to be intrigued by the direction the band takes from here on out. The new record won?t be a ?fucking concept album? we?re told, and without the major label backing, maybe we?re looking at something a little less polished, and a little more gnarly. Maybe these ?dive? tours will be prominent again? Probably not, though. [3/5]

Gallows performs ?Orchestra of Wolves? in its entirety at Dingwalls in Camden early on Friday 17 December 2010. The band plays ?Grey Britain? at Camden?s Electric Ballroom later on the same day.