@ Newcastle O2 Academy 2, October 8 2012

Former Gallows vocalist Frank Carter became one of the most recognisable faces in hardcore as he spearheaded his band’s rise from the UK punk underground to international acclaim.

He was always going to be a tough act to follow. But in recruiting former Alexisonfire guitarist Wade MacNeil as his replacement last year, Gallows pulled off a masterstroke… as this show proved. 

For the burly, tattooed Canadian, resplendent in a Napalm Death vest and gleaming with sweat, was punk rock personified last night, bounding around the stage, sharing the mic with eager fans, singing every line as if it was his last. MacNeil was welcomed with open arms – literally – with any concerns over Carter’s absence forgotten within seconds of the band’s opener, Misery.

The quintet, touring in support of their self titled, RUSHONROCK RATED 10/10 third album, had to be on top of their game though, as support act Feed The Rhino were in no mood to play second fiddle.

There’s a buzz about this Kent outfit at the moment and on this performance, it was easy to see why.

Following on from Brotherhood Of The Lake , whose early slot was indifferently received by a sparse crowd, Feed The Rhino simply rocked. The band treated a rapidly filling Academy 2 to an incendiary mixture of punk, hardcore and metal, and fronted by the fearsome Lee Tobin (the bearded frontman looks straight out of an 80s anarcho group), they made their first visit to Tyneside a memorable one.

Kickstarting the first pit action of the evening, Tobin and his cohorts weren’t going to leave the stage without winning hearts, minds and Facebook followers, and they did so with a show of true class. Expect big things from these boys.

However, what Feed The Rhino don’t have quite yet, is the ability to write anthem after anthem after anthem. Gallows do – and when they’re played with the passion, energy and battled hardened spirit shown last night, the likes of old faves London Is The Reason and Abandon Ship are incredible.

Thankfully, there was plenty of room for new material too, from Last June’s riot starting rage, to the more melodic strains of Outsider Art, to the metal plated assault of Cross Of Lorraine, to the rapidfire steet punk of Vapid Adolescent Blues.

Most hardcore bands would kill for a tenth of Gallows’ songwriting nous and while you can get away with dumbed down mosh fodder from time to time, it doesn’t make for a headline show.

And make no mistake, this was a true headliner’s performance from the revamped five-piece, a real statement of intent from a band entering a new era. Never mind Frank Carter, the new Gallows are the dog’s bollocks.

Richard Holmes