Live Reviews

Gallows – Live

100 Club, London

Tonight, there is little in the way of hysteria on display as we enter the 100 Club. Various band members are wandering around, chatting with the early arrivals, or just helping to set up the merch stand.

Coupled with the intimacy of the venue, it’s a reminder of what Gallows themselves would probably be reluctant to call ‘the good old days’. The fact that they spent most of those early days in an almost constant state of near-collapse was well documented on the original release of their ‘Orchestra Of Wolves‘ album; so you’d forgive Frank Carter and co if they didn’t want to re-tread old boards after the success of their recent UK tour (including a sold-out show at the Astoria).

But in hardcore circles, topping the NME’s Cool List doesn’t count for much if you can no longer deliver the kind of performance for which you’re renowned. Kudos, then to Gallows, for attempting to silence the doubters no less than four times over in this most historic of clubs.

It stands for Simply Soft Skin!” growls SSS vocalist Foxy, with regard to his band’s name. Super-Scary Scousers, more like. The Liverpool thrash crew may match their kindred spirits (and labelmates) Municipal Waste in terms of sheer unbridled energy, but make no mistake: this ain’t no party thrash. As Foxy prowls the venue’s floor, spitting the lyrics of ‘Damaged Goods‘ into the face of anyone who dares look even slightly bored, it’s evident that SSS are offering up something darker, more aggressive, and more goddamn British than most of their peers. Yep, this is thrash with a bad attitude – and it sounds fucking vital.

Another of Gallows’ former tour-buddies, Set Your Goals, are also in the house, and they delight the increasingly packed masses with an impromptu two-song performance. The rabid crowd enthusiasm of their own gigs may be lacking, but their signature anthem ‘Mutiny’ still sounds impressively huge tonight.

There are a fair few gawpers assembled for the headliners. You know, the kind of folks who don’t really get involved in the gig, and instead just stand on the periphery of the crowd, looking half-curious, half-confused. Each to their own, and all that, but as said crowd goes utterly apeshit to Gallows’ opening salvo of ‘Abandon Ship‘, ‘Come Friendly Bombs‘ and ‘Kill The Rhythm‘, it’s clear that you have get in close to truly feel the impact (literal and metaphorical) of the Watford Five.

You see, the biggest thrill of tonight comes from witnessing Gallows rip through their set with all the unrestrained, visceral glory of old. The elements of danger and unpredictability – so often quelled by a crowd barrier – are back with a vengeance; with Frank balancing precariously on a monitor to howl the lyrics of ‘Will Someone Shoot That Fucking Snake‘ right into the faces of the front rows. Throughout every song, both band and crowd thrive on the intimacy, and by the time ‘Orchestra Of Wolves‘ brings the night to a teeth-rattling finish, Frank can’t help but smile as the microphones are swallowed up by the huge mass of flailing limbs beneath him.

The wolves may be better fed and cared for these days, but don’t be fooled into thinking that they’ve been tamed. Major label or not, they can still easily tear you apart at close quarters – and for that, you should be grateful.

Alex Gosman