Though I’d been waiting to see British punk band, The Gallows, at Lee’s Palace in Toronto for over four months, my excitement for the show was slightly tainted due to the fact that, in 2011, their original lead singer, Frank Carter, left the band. I’d seen the Gallows once before in Vancouver during the 2009 Warped Tour festival, and despite the fact that the rest of band were nothing but an amplified ball of punk energy, it was Carter who was thrashing around and enthralling the crowd. So much so, in fact, that it put the headliners of the festival to shame. Even though he was replaced by Wade MacNeil, the lead guitarist of Alexisonfire and lead singer of Black Lungs (whom I absolutely love), I wasn’t completely sure the band could still thrive without Carter.
Luckily though, coming onstage a few minuets after 11 o’clock, my skepticism almost instantly vanished, as MacNeil and the rest of the band were nothing short of excellent. With no acoustic guitar in sight, they played hard and fast, blazing through a twelve-song set, sending the crowd into a frenzied state.
Throughout the whole show, the band’s energy was infectious, bleeding into the crowd as they progressed from track to track. With the mosh pit getting noticeably faster as the show went on, by the last track (‘Crosses of Lorraine’) it was nothing but an ocean of bodies careening into each other.
To my surprise, they even played tracks off of the previous two albums done with Carter, like ‘London is the Reason’ and ‘In the Belly of a Shark’.
But it was the tracks like ‘Outsider Art’ and ‘Last June’ that hit the crowd of about 100 people especially hard, with MacNeil jumping up onto the amps at the front of the stage, leaning into the crowd while bellowing out, “A C A B / Until last June meant nothing to me”.
That’s the beautiful thing about small venues like Lee’s Palace: you’re only about two metres away from the band, which allows for interaction that is near impossible at larger venues like the Air Canada Centre.
Though the Gallows won’t be coming back to Toronto anytime soon, you can see Wade MacNeil play with Alexisonfire December 26 to December 29 at the Sound Academy.