LIVE: Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes / HO99O9 @ Alexandra Palace

By Adam Rosario

When looking at ticket websites ahead of tonight’s show, they all said one thing. ‘Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, Alexandra Palace: SOLD OUT’. And it’s about time. Having been a part of three major bands, Frank Carter has become a true British punk icon – who can ever forget that iconic photo of him on stage with blood trickling from his head at The Sugarmill in Stoke? After leaving Gallows, Pure Love followed and flipped the script on what everyone thought Carter was all about. After they disbanded, he returned again, this time fronting a band under his own name. From the toilet circuit through to academies, to debuting his new band at his own tattoo shop, Carter’s journey has been anything but uneventful. 

Tonight, Carter and the Rattlesnakes have brought along Ho9909 – one of the most renowned new bands going – a punk rock and hip-hop hybrid who spit over dark and heavy synths. Through their seven song set, Ho99o9 bring the party; with just two vocalists and a drummer on stage, they make use of the space as they climb speaker stacks and use the two giant screens for their artwork, letting it vibrate with the bass that rumbles through the speakers. ‘Delete My Browser History’ is the standout song for the duo, before a finale of ‘Dope Dealerz’ and ‘F.O.G’ brings the set to a close and the main event approaches.

When the lights go down, the cheers are deafening, and when the band strides on, Carter stands centre stage on a high rise before launching into ‘Why a Butterfly Can’t Love a Spider’ from latest album ‘End of Suffering’. Carter looks like a rock star; performing in a suit with an orange Hawaiian shirt, he struts around the stage, holding everyone’s attention. This is something he’s done throughout his career, only now it’s the result of his ability to hold the crowd in his hand, rather than because people want to see him lose control. When ‘Juggernaut’ is played third in the set, Carter starts the song in the crowd, screaming his lungs out. Since the Rattlesnakes came into existence, this has been their anthem, with lyrics that describe Carter’s feelings – he doesn’t need company, because he can do it all on his own.

The band have been loud advocates for safe spaces for women at gigs, and tonight is no exception. Before ‘Wild Flowers’, Carter instructs all the men out of the mosh pits and threatens to come down to the crowd himself to police this rule. Even whilst playing the biggest show of his career, the compassion and attention to detail to make sure everyone is safe is incredible. Gone is the constantly angry Frank Carter, always looking to pick a fight, and in his place stands a more complete human being, whose main concern is the safety of everyone in this gigantic room – and that they’re having a good time. A good time is had by many, especially when the disco ball appears and the crowd are told to find a partner for a slow dance. “No moshing allowed and don’t you dare fuck this up,” laughs Carter before the tender ‘Love Games’ gives the crowd a chance for a breather, followed by a rousing speech on the importance of mental health that leads into ‘Anxiety’.

Throughout the set, it becomes apparent how many big songs this band have put together in their five years. ‘Spray Paint Love’ straight into ‘Acid Veins’ is a treat, but when ‘Neon Rust’ is played back to back with ‘Angel Wings’, it proves to be a standout moment of the evening. ‘Angel Wings’ in particular really hits the crowd, with the voices in the room almost drowning the band out. ‘Lullaby’ is dedicated to Carter’s daughter as he captures the moment on his iPhone, which is followed by a semi-acoustic version of ‘End of Suffering’, being aired for only the third time. With Richardson on keyboard duties, the room is filled with torch lights and lighters held aloft. 

“Shall we call it a day there lads? I think we’ve had a good day!’” says Carter, before making the crowd part “like the red sea” so he can see his mother at the sound desk. The sound desk is where he starts to perform one of the best sub-three minute songs of the past ten years. Whilst ‘Juggernaut’ is the band’s anthem, ‘Crowbar’ is one of their two signature songs. Carter performs the whole song in the crowd, lost in a sea of limbs and screaming fans. ‘Crowbar’ does, however, bring with it some drama as an incident occurs which sadly requires paramedics and, as a result, the show is cut by fifteen minutes; but not before a roaring rendition of ‘Devil Inside Me’ brings the party back to life, and their most recognisable song then closes the set. ‘I Hate You’ has become a staple of every Rattlesnakes show, no matter where they play, and the venom from the band shows why it has become the set closer.

As ‘I Hate You’ comes to an end, Carter picks up his jacket and puts it back on, like he’s just finished a day at the office – a very nonchalant reaction to finishing the biggest show of his career. Inside, it’s easy to see how much of a high he is on, having evolved from the ginger punk of British rock music, to an arena beating showman. Frank Carter is a British rock icon and, with so much uncertainty right now, the world needs music more than ever. Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes have gone from the basement of a tattoo shop to arenas in five years. How far they can go from here is a journey everyone should watch with real interest.