Live Photos and Gig Review Credit: Adrian Hextall (Photographer/Live Gig reporter Myglobalmind Webzine
The Wildheart’s sound is a mixture of hard rock, punk, classic rock and more.. that the press never seem to quite pigeonhole correctly. Should you really want to see what drives a band who are now celebrating some 20 years in the music business listen to their classic “29 X The Pain”, which lists many of group leader Ginger’s influences including;
The Replacements, Hüsker Dü, the Beatles and the Stones, Ramones, Sex Pistols, Starz, Queen, Cheap Trick, The Clash, Jason and the Scorchers, KISS, Heart, The Damned, Blue Oyster Cult and Nirvana.
It’s that diverse list of influences that allow the band to deliver music that can cross so many different genres and hook fans in from all angles and sees yet another sold out show in London tonight. The Electric Ballroom in Camden is heaving and whilst it’s great to advertise a sold out venue it’s also clear that the band could easily have played somewhere bigger as well and still filled the venue.
Although new Wildhearts material has been scarce over the last few years, lead singer and founder member Ginger Wildheart launched (in 2011) the Triple Album Project via Pledgemusic, a website that enables fans to fund the recording and production of an album or other music project up front. The campaign met with immediate success, hitting 100% of the funding total within six hours of launching.
That success led to his double Mutation / Hey! Hello! Pledgemusic campaign. Hey! Hello! is a “noisy pop” side-project by Ginger and Victoria Liedke and features Ginger playing all instruments, a feat for which he had to learn drums. The release garnered such commercial success both in the UK and abroad that a band was compiled and Hey! Hello! open the show tonight with workaholic Ginger supporting his other band yet again as he has done on so many recent tours.
It’s difficult to play all of the instruments in the live arena so for the purposes of the tour Ginger has acquired the talents of Trip To Miami’s Ai Sugiyama on drums, The Rev (The Howling/Towers of London) on guitar, and Toshi Ogawa, formerly of Slaves To Gravity, on bass. Supported of course by partner in crime Victoria on vocals, Hey! Hello! power (pop) through 8 tracks from their debut album plus a great cover from the Sparks to top it all off.
To maintain the image that this is a completely fresh and standalone project for Ginger, he dresses suited and booted, hair slicked into a 1950’s teddy boy look and finishes off the visage with a large pair of sunglasses. Victoria with her floaty, colourful outfit comes across as a mixture of Debbie Harry’s attitude and Kate Pierson’s (B-52s) poppy bounciness. The mix of styles works very well for the band and the full floor receives them with as much fervour and energy as they do later on for the headliners.
It’s impossible to stand still and not sing along to the majority of the tracks on offer tonight and even the monologue that is “How I Survived the Punk Wars” sees the audience shouting “STOP” at all the right junctures.
“Swimwear” closes the set and showcases the perfect blend of pop and rock and reaffirms what a good songwriter Ginger is. On the strength of the show tonight, this project could become quite a serious undertaking as the band gels very, very well. Already big in Japan, let’s hope a follow up album is soon in production.
Burn the Rule Book (Fuck It)
Lock for Rock (and Other Sporting Clichés’)
How I Survived the Punk Wars
The Thrill of It All
Ginger Wildheart – guitar / vocals
Victoria Liedke – vocals
Ai Sugiyama – drums
Toshi Ogawa – bass guitar
The Rev – guitars
VON HERTZEN BROTHERS
Never afraid to champion a band that he himself listens to, Finnish band Von Hertzen Bros appear on the stage on the back of guest slots at Ginger’s 2013 Birthday Bash. It’s easy to see why they appear on the bill tonight as their more progressive, melodic rock leanings have elements seen in the last few Wildhearts releases and the band thus appeal to fans of that era of the headliners music rather than the earlier poppier material.
Latest album “Nine Lives” with the wonderful tigers heads artwork gets the most tracks in tonight’s setlist including opener ‘Insomniac’. ‘Flowers & Rust’ which garnered great critical acclaim when released gets a similar response from the increasingly loud, sweaty, drunken crowd who clearly enjoy the set even if they are not all familiar with the material.
Mikko von Hertzen is clearly overjoyed at the opportunity to play to the UK crowds on this tour and stops the show at one point to personally thank Ginger, inviting him up on stage to show his appreciation. Ever the shy performer, Ginger politely declines, not wanting to steal the spotlight from the energetic VHB frontman. A true gentleman!
With the three brothers spread across the front of the stage, the interplay between the siblings is great and shows a tight family unit that has clearly worked and played together for many years.
‘Into Your Arms’ and ‘Let Thy Will Be Done’ close out the set and as the dust settles the audience troop again to the bar to stock up before the headliners arrive.
Flowers & Rust
Always Been Right
In Your Arms
Let Thy Will Be Done
Kie von Hertzen (guitars, backing vocals),
Mikko von Hertzen (vocals, guitar)
Jonne von Hertzen (bass guitar, backing vocals)
Mikko Kaakkuriniemi (drums)
Juha Kuoppala (keyboards)
Like a poor Spinal Tap gag, the bassist position in The Wildhearts has never been a stable or seemingly permanent one. As soon as one member has bedded in, out they go to be replaced by someone new. Scott Sorry returns to the fold tonight after a few years out of the band for family reasons (having been replaced by ‘Random’ Jon Poole). An exclusive interview for MyGlobalMind with CJ Wildheart confirms that both Scott and Jon are likely to maintain the role jointly depending on availability at the time of need.
Outfit changes see Ginger ditching the white suit and returning as a seasoned rocker with over 20 years’ experience in the band under his belt.
We are then treated to a run through the extensive back catalogue from The Wildhearts which comprises, as is to be expected, the usual crowd pleasers and some clear band favourites that don’t always get aired on a regular basis. It’s for this reason that no two Wildhearts tours are ever the same. They don’t just play a greatest hits set, that would be far too easy. Instead they challenge the crowd and find the perfect mix between the more casual fans who knows the favourites and those tracks for the diehard fans (of which there are many here tonight) who want to hear the less well known material in the live environment.
The first seven songs of the set tonight are instant crowd pleasers and see most of the lyrics sung / yelled / hollered back to the band onstage by the happy inebriated crowd. Then we see the more modern material like ‘The Revolution Will Be Televised’ from “The Wildhearts” (Scott Sorry’s first album with the band) and ‘Mazel Tov Cocktail’ from “¡Chutzpah!” the follow up.
Rich Battersby looks like a possessed demon behind his drum kit as his arms flail and pound the kit whilst Sorry brings a punkier edge to proceedings and sees him (and his clearly bionic legs) in mid air for most of the proceedings. If you then blended John Lennon and Keith Richards you’d see how the interplay between Ginger and CJ works. Two men still on top of their game who make the energy and enthusiasm they put into the show seem effortless.
‘My Baby is a Headfuck’ and ‘Suckerpunch’ results in the already tightly packed crowd going wild and they proceed to bounce off as many available walls as possible. The main set finishes with ‘I Wanna Go….’ and proves in a single song that a 20th Anniversary tour in support of P.H.U.Q can only be a matter of booking the venues. It has to happen!!
Following a short break the audience sing ‘Geordie in Wonderland’ to the band upon their return and we are even treated to ‘Junkenstein’ during the encore from tough third album ‘Endless Nameless’.
Original B-side and fan favourite ‘29x The Pain’ closes out the show and the band departs. Despite always nearly retiring, calling it a day, and more.. there is no doubt they will be back for another batch of album anniversary shows in the near future.
Nothing Ever Changes but the Shoes
Sick of Drugs
Someone That Won’t Let Me Go
The Revolution Will Be Televised
Mazel Tov Cocktail
My Baby Is a Headfuck
I Wanna Go Where the People Go
Geordie in Wonderland
The Jackson Whites
Carmelita (Warren Zevon cover)
Greetings from Shitsville
The Only One
29 x the Pain
Ginger Wildheart – guitar and lead vocals
CJ Wildheart – guitar and vocals
Rich Battersby – Drums
Scott Sorry – Bass and vocals