The King is dead, long live the Kings.
After the events that unfolded in the summer of 2011, Gallows' autumn tour was always going to be something of an acid test for the band. The first headline run since the release of their self-titled album in September would be for many fans the first chance to see Wade MacNeil in action as frontman. This night in Nottingham Rock City's Basement proved beyond all doubt that the band have been freed from Frank Carter's albatross and that Gallows are still one of the most electric live bands of the generation.
Grey Britain's Misery is as worthy a set opener as any, serving as the spark that was needed to ignite the evening. The audience powder keg then promptly exploded to the sound of a trio of tracks from their recently released self-titled record. Everybody Loves You (When You're Dead), Last June and latest single Outsider Art all sounded ferocious. This new material stood head and shoulders above established hits from both Grey Britain and Orchestra of Wolves. The band's confidence in their recent output was plain to see, their high-energy music mirrored by a renewed swagger, prowling the stage, bar and speaker stacks with clear intent.
Tracks from last winter's Death is Birth EP (the first material recorded with MacNeil) made a welcome appearance, Mondo Chaos sounded physically threatening and the accompanying crowd reaction instantly repaid the band's faith in a brave set list. That isn't to say that the band shied away from early material, occasionally dipping into Grey Britain for renditions of Death Voices and London is the Reason. Where many doubted MacNeil's ability to retain the character of these early songs, there was no one doubting his ability on the night. Guitarist Steph Carter offered vocals where needed, but there were no illusions that Gallows are a very different proposition in 2012 than their early days.
A three-song encore brought the house down, heralded by the eerie spoken-word intro to new album opener Victim Culture. When the screams of 'In us we trust' died down, a trip back to Orchestra of Wolves beckoned, breakthrough single Abandon Ship lay the foundations for their debut release's title track. At this stage, the band and crowd became one, with limbs, instruments and equipment flailing around the venue.
Earlier that evening, Plymouth's heaviest export Brotherhood Of The Lake had the unenviable task of opening the night's entertainment. Their anvil-heavy brand of metal, so strong on record, failed to ignite the crowd to the obvious chagrin of the group. Next up, Feed The Rhino put in a plucky performance for the unwilling crowd. Bearded frontman Lee Tobin used every inch of the venue; from speaker stacks to the bar side-stage in an attempt to incite the riot they hoped for. Established tracks Mr Red Eye and The Butchers sounded fantastic, balanced alongside new songs from this summer's The Burning Sons. When Tobin clambered into the crowd, heralding set-closer Razor, the crowd finally sprang into life, the evening's first circle pit reward for the Kent band's hardworking performance.
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