Opening the show to a largely empty Rock City were Aussie alternative artist Ecca Vandal, who was almost a surprise addition to the lineup with quite how different she is from the other two bands. She and the band played through their electronic-influenced tunes taken largely from her debut self-titled album. A seemingly well-rehearsed machine, Ecca had a huge energy and optimism that would not be broken by the lack of crowd – a quality to be admired in a vocalist. Not a bad set at all, and definitely one that will have gained her some fans. [6/10]
Following up in the middle of the sandwich were Ipswich emo punks Basement who brought with them an instant wave of excitement as they hit the Nottingham stage. With a huge back catalogue to choose a setlist, the band produced a collection of their greatest hits from through their career. The weighting towards previous album Colourmeinkindness was somewhat surprising, but nonetheless the audience were as active through the older songs as the new; the pits weren’t big but they were very active throughout Whole, Spoiled, Aquasun and Covet which got frontman Andrew Fisher into a mixture of humility and excitement as he finishing off their set with new fan favourite Promise Everything. Basement had set up headliners The Rattlesnakes immaculately well with a set as fantastic as usual. [9/10]
Closing up the night were Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes who had high hopes resting on their performance from the raving crowd. Carter is known as one of the best frontmen around, and the set did not disappoint; this whole tour was to celebrate where they are now as a band with Manchester and Brixton’s stops receiving a performance of all 23 songs to date. In Nottingham, the band pulled out a modest 19 – missing only Beautiful Death and Trouble from debut album Blossom, and opener/closer pairing Bluebelle and Neon Rust from this year’s Modern Ruin.
Exploding onto the stage somewhat fittingly with Primary Explosive, the energy in the room just lifted on seeing the long-term punk talisman set foot on the stage. The first section of the set played out non-stop Blossom: Rotten Blossom, Fangs and Juggernaut providing a reminder of just how riff-driven the band were from the very start, contrasting with the riff-vocal balance in the following Vampires. Wild Flowers had Frank asking for all the women in the audience to crowdsurf and urged everyone to keep them safe so they could experience it safely just as he has in most of his shows this year, which ended up leading to a stageful of ladies dancing with him and singing their lungs out – their faces just summed up the event as a whole.
Acid Veins and new single Spray Paint Love made their first outings on this tour and the Nottingham set contained both, performed with the swing and swagger they deserve from the very roots of the song. A crowd-surfing Frank and Dean both finished Jackals atop the moshing sea of people before the frontman made his way up to the balcony for the title track of the latest album. More crowdsurfing, an accidentally-stolen GoPro and a piano version of Loss later, the rollercoaster of emotion wasn’t near winding down as the band dedicated Thunder and Paradise to victims of terrorist attacks at musical events, citing the songs as chapter one and the epilogue of the same story in the fight against terrorism.
The Rattlesnakes finished their set off with a glorious rendition of I Hate You which was dedicated to a fan who had been punched in the face by someone nearby, who was rapidly ejected from the venue. Thanking the crowd, Frank left the stage with a tangible mood in the air of the excitement and cathartic nature of the set that had just gone – a fitting feeling for the night. [10/10]
For those interested, The Rattlesnakes had taken her and a friend backstage, taken a photo with her and had a long chat – a class gesture to end a fantastic night from one of the best British bands of modern times.