Punks get up close and personal...

Politely nudging his way through the crowd covering the entire length of east London’s Macbeth pub, Frank Carter gently excuses himself each time he brushes by one of the 150-odd punters (few inked up, but all on edge) standing in wait for the first night of a double date live return for his band, Gallows.

Making it on stage with minimal impact and taking the microphone, the chalked-skin frontman asks the crowd to part, and like loyal sheep we shuffle out, only to have Mother Carter bashfully trot through holding tightly the hand of another aged bird, no doubt taking a safe corner for the most exciting gig this Christmas.

“They took the Christmas decorations down because they thought we’d break em’. They were right!” says Carter defiantly, stripping off his hoodie in anticipation for the first chord.

And oh, what Mrs Carter must make of the teeth-shattering, neck-crunching, kick-to-the-pulped-face mayhem that her two boys (brother Steph plays guitar) instigate tonight, with familial care making way for overseen violence. There’s no doubt that Frank, the sometimes gentleman and fulltime mummy’s boy, is fronting the most exciting hardcore band active in the UK.

“All you fuckers at the back, you’re going to work tonight!” he snarls before the band ploughed into ‘Abandon Ship’ and his flame hair is swallowed whole by the mosh. Emerging from the pool of bodies, microphone in hand, Carter clambers up the pub’s iron support beam and grills his skull into it. Obscenely brutal, Carter’s self-cruelty instantly familiarises one with the delightful carnage that is a Gallows gig.

While the splitting riffage of ‘Kill the Rhythm’ fuels the bustle, Captain Carter then leads the beast into a brief glimpse of new material, including the previously heard garage-punching ‘London is The Reason’, followed by ‘I Dread the Night’, a kicking, hair-metal rocker. The comes call-and-response favourite ‘Come Friendly Bombs’.

“This is not a Libertines show! We’re not the fucking Kaiser Chiefs!” champions the heavy breathing screamer, demanding more from the psychotic mosh, as if four stage dives off the bar wasn’t enough.

And as the forbearing Macbeth security watch, an invasive knot of limbs and body brunt erupts. Such fleshy collisions that would warrant arrest if committed outside the perimeters of the venue accompany new tunes ‘Black Eyes’, a lightning-paced song about “politicians and how full of shit they are”, followed by ‘The Forgiver’, a song “ten times faster” than ‘Black Eyes’, these revealing a dark renaissance for the band who will emerge in 2009 with notably more rock-reeling sound.

Pleasingly unchanged is Gallows’ sincerity: they remain a group who bestow unmatched gratitude upon their guests while summoning anarchy not fuelled by exclusion, but a grinning need to have a party and fuck each other up. Though the crowd might tear itself apart, the band meticulously stays together, even while Frank wrenches bile from his gut. Closing with ‘Orchestra of Wolves’, one can safely assume that Mother Carter is, most likely, very proud.


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