“I wonder how many of you were expecting something different… you’ll prefer it in the long run, trust me.” Thus speaks Frank Carter three songs into his band’s set at The Duchess this evening. For those who missed the memo, that band is Pure Love, a collaboration between the ex-Gallows frontman and guitarist Jim Carroll (formerly of The Hope Conspiracy and The Suicide File) – and as the name might suggest, the tone of the band’s music is far more positive than its members’ previous output.
That’s not to say there isn’t any negativity in the songs – Carter describes the slow-paced, moody ‘Anthem’ as being about “being stuck in a sh** job and not being able to get out” – but the overall message the band are trying to get across is that they want this music to be fun, for both themselves and everyone else at their shows. That’s probably why Carter chooses to engage the audience directly after a couple of songs, planting his mic stand in the middle of the crowd and singing from there – an act that certainly demonstrates a sense of confidence in his new-found vocal chops. Carter may seem like an unlikely rock singer, but it’s a role he’s more than capable of, and he’s obviously relishing the opportunity.
It’s tough to win an audience over when they only know one or two of your songs (a fact that’s acknowledged early on by Carter), and while the first few tracks are well received, it’s ‘Bury My Bones’ that really breathes life into the crowd – starting with a few people singing along and ending with a gleeful, bouncing throng surrounding both Carter, and Carroll who seems to appear on the dancefloor out of nowhere to shred his way through the song’s solo. With colossal hooks and an almost palpable feel-good vibe, It’s clear to see why the song goes down so well. With the crowd now suitably on side, they both return to the stage to keep the tempo up with the boisterous ‘Handsome Devil’s Club’, which sees those at the front jumping and singing along with carefree abandon – and Carter subsequently rewards their efforts by dishing out the beer from the band’s rider amongst them.
But tonight is also a demonstration of the breadth of Pure Love’s abilities. There’s stomping opener ‘She (Makes The Devil Run Through Me)’ that resists temptation by the opposite sex and walks out of the door with its dignity intact (“Even though I hate being alone/I still wouldn’t take you home”). There’s the slinky, filthy but simultaneously tender ‘Burning Love’, before which Carter instructs the audience to hold their boyfriends and girlfriends tight and “tell them how unbelievably hard you’re going to fuck them tonight.” And finally, there’s rabble-rousing set-closer ‘Riot Song’, which sees all five band members decamp to the dancefloor (drumkit and all) and lead the audience in a mass singalong. It’s an invigorating end to a gig that’s been surprising, entertaining, and grin-inducingly enjoyable to participate in. Hopefully Pure Love have enjoyed themselves enough to come back some time – if everyone left with smiles on their faces tonight, who knows how much fun we could have once we actually know the rest of their songs?
For more information visit the official Pure Love website.