Been looking forward to this outing since I last saw Frank at Koko back in March. On that occasion they put on a polished controlled performance with hints of the underlying anger that has motivated Frank Carter since he was in the Gallows about 10 years ago. The first album “Blossoms” has some huge songs which have been drawn very directly from his emotional state. In keeping with this philosophy second album “Modern Ruin” sees a transformation with in my view songs like “Vampires” or “Lullaby” providing a musical bridge between his old and his new state of mind. He’s now got a young family and musically is hovering on the edge of being more radio friendly.Either he or his management are quite brand savvy it seems to me. They produce a lot of merchandise and seem keen to associate with some big brands like Samsung at the moment. As with any band progression runs the risk of alienating your core base.
So back to the evening three support bands in attendance starting the proceedings at 6.45. So I missed the first band “Fun” but was offered a promotional drink at the bar courtesy of Sailor Jerry, so that was OK.
Second support Ecca Vandal, from Australia, were a bit lost in the cavernous ,and still relatively ,empty O2. In a more intimate venue think they would be good. Sounded a little like Rage against the machine stylistically, the singer tried to get the crowd warmed up. Still only 7.15 however.
Next on were Basement, who are an English band but have a “melodic hardcore punk” style which give them a bit of a US sound. Nothing really to differentiate themselves from many other bands on this outing.
Getting to the headliners Frank is an energetic and larger than life frontman , engaging the audience and sharing his world view . An entertainer at his heart. Problem on the night was that what I can only say must be the Brixton gremlins were in charge. The sound was very disappointing and reminded me that I had once vowed never to go there again due to seeing a run of bands where it was poor. Despite the energy of the band on stage apart from the vocals (which sounded like they were in the room next door)all you were getting was a leaden drum sound . The two guitarists were pretty much lost in the mix and that makes a huge difference to the dynamics of the songs.
They played for best part of two hours but clearly I was disappointed that the sound didn’t really improve throughout. So not being particularly technical in this area don’t know if its down to the sound check or even the ambient temperature as it was a cold evening.
Hopefully next tour will avoid Brixton, although venues of this size are not really in abundance in London these days. Back down at Brixton O2 again this week to see Gogol Bordello. Fingers crossed for the sound fairies to work their magic this time.