Pure Love - Electric Circus, Edinburgh, Fri 8 Feb 2013
High energy live show from former Gallows frontman Frank Carter and co
Gallows had built up a reputation for ferociously intense live shows. They were the leaders of the UK’s hardcore scene leaving a trail of trashed venues in their wake. Each gig an explosion of feral punk rock, flailing bodies, blood and gore. Picked up by Warners then subsequently dropped after just one record they resolutely stuck to their ideals and refused to compromise for anyone. Which is why it was such a surprise when enigmatic frontman Frank Carter announced his departure citing that rock stand-by ‘creative differences’ (Gallows are still touring and recording, with ex-Alexisonfire vocalist Wade MacNeil stepping into the breach).
The next surprise was the first release from his new project, Pure Love, with ex-Hope Conspiracy guitarist Jim Carroll. The opening lyrics may have been an insight into Carter’s headspace (‘I'm so sick of singing about hate/It's never gonna make a change/It breaks me down bit by bit/Keep me steadily feeling sick’) but it was impossible to ignore the fact ‘Bury My Bones’ sounded like the cheese rock of The Darkness. Basically nothing like either of their former bands.
But live Pure Love are as thrillingly exhilarating as any rock band on the planet. As Carter bounds on stage you can see he’s chomping at the bit, at first his wiry tattooed body looks pent up and ready to explode, the music can’t match his barely contained intensity. By their third song Carter leaps off the stage into the midst of the audience, soon Carroll is crowd surfing while laying down a squealing guitar solo. The gig suddenly makes sense, the crowd as much a part of the show as the band. It’s a wonderful skill to behold, they keep the pit on the edge of chaos but somehow this mini-riot is friendly, upbeat and inclusive. Carter hardly returns to the stage for the rest of the gig you can see and feel the mosh-pit rippling out from his epicentre. The rest of the show is spent singing from deep amongst the sweaty masses or being held aloft by the crowd, Carroll is similarly stage-phobic playing standing on top of the bar or wandering through the throng thrashing out solos. For their final track, the appropriately titled ‘Riot Song’ the entire band (including the drum kit) move into the crowd. The Electric Circus proves to be the perfect venue for their antics, the compact nature and low stage blurring the lines between us and them, adding to the feeling of community.
It’s a short sharp shock and 40 minutes later it’s all over, everyone looks like they want more, and more, and more. But perhaps more importantly everyone is smiling, everyone looks happy, excited, buzzing on adrenaline and Carter looks the happiest he’s been in years. Truly phenomenal.