Live Photos and Gig Review Credit: Adrian Hextall (Photographer/Live Gig reporter)
Chris Catalyst is certainly a busy man. Sunday night saw him perform a solo acoustic set at The Borderline, rapidly followed by a set with C.J. Wildheart at the same gig. Then a mere three days later, here he is again, playing alongside a host of familiar faces and special guests, celebrating the 50th birthday of one of Britain’s greatest singer songwriters, Ginger Wildheart!
The birthday bash has become a little bit of a tradition. What started out as a one off show at the Marquee Club in 2004, since 2009 it has become an annual event, with The Forum, tonight, playing host for the second time. As the show is always played on his birthday, it can of course land on any night of the week and whilst tonight is not a Saturday night, Ginger points out that he has every intention of making it feel like one. And so, he commences a three hour set ably supported by Denzel, ‘Random’ Jon Poole and the afore mentioned Chris Catalyst.
Such is Ginger’s desire that the crowd just enjoys the gig without distraction he makes an impassioned plea that people stick to the medium of their ‘eyes’ only to view the gig instead of what is becoming the norm, the screen of someone’s mobile phone stood in front of you. He offers up some options as to what people should do if they feel their view is impaired, ranging from a polite tap on the shoulder followed by a ‘please put your phone away’ to being.. as he puts it… “if you’re a cunt like me then you can grab it and throw it up on stage”. It’s fair enough and looking around the packed Forum floor the majority of people adhere to the request either through a sense of respect or, more likely, a fear of losing their phone. Either way it works.
‘Only Henry Rollins Can Save Us Now’ opens up the show to a great reception which suggests everyone assembled has signed up for his fan centred G.A.S.S. project or they are simply ‘up for it’ tonight. Either way, the smiles from stage and crowd along with the roars and cheers from the masses do not abate for the next 180 minutes.
Kelii Compulsive fills the space previously inhabited by Victoria Liedtke and does a wonderful job on some of the GWB material. For those people still (like me) hankering for a follow up to the Hey! Hello! début album, Ginger takes time during the show to confirm that the project was something that should have gone further and he wanted it to but it was just not meant to be. There is just enough time to wipe away a tear before another batch of guests come onto the stage as part of the revolving line up for the night.
To keep up with Ginger’s extensive back catalogue is no mean feat and we are treated to tracks from GWB, Hey! Hello!, Mutation, Silver Ginger 5, Howling Willie Cunt, The Wildhearts and a cover from Jason & The Scorchers ‘White Lies’ which Ginger cites as his ‘favourite song by anyone ever’ which is definitely reason enough to include it in your setlist, especially when it’s your own party.
Pockets of fans seem to prefer certain songs although the front few rows, not surprisingly, seem to know every track from every album made by every Ginger and his associated projects or bands. The fans of course do add to the experience whole heartedly and a group of them are seen sporting specially printed ‘Operation Chainmail’ t-shirts, with the back print presenting a cryptic “Ssshh, Don’t Tell Ginger“. Tell him what, the majority wonder.. ?
Highlights of the evening are of course the rarities. The tracks the fans have come to love and hardly ever hear live. ‘Rats’ from the Mutation project sees Ginger take to the drum kit, wrapping a scarf around his head to look like a ‘proper drummer’ whilst Jase Edwards of Wolfsbane fame and Givvi Flynn take on guitar and vocal work respectively. If that wasn’t enough, Denzel comes out from behind the kit to take on additional guitar duties, something he is clearly apprehensive about. It all goes off like clockwork however and is followed by ‘Country Boy’ from the Howling Wille, ‘World of Filth’ , something we never dreamed we’d hear played live. Good times indeed.
By leaving it a few days to gather opinion, thoughts and comments it’s wonderful to see so many different songs picked as personal favourites or highlights of the evening. Naturally a chunk of the songs from The Wildhearts catalogue feature in the last hour of the night with Ginger often muttering how he hates singing this one or that one and then smiling at the recognition that he’s built a 30 year career out of being a singer / songwriter. ‘If Life Is Like a Lovebank I Want an Overdraft’ gets a mention if only to get readers to look it up on YouTube for the rather explicit video that accompanies it and resulted in one poor girl from the record label who arranged the funding to get the sack over it when it was made.
Naturally, ‘29x The Pain’ and ‘I Wanna Go Where The People Go’ close up the night which in my opinion was perhaps the most entertaining and enjoyable to date. The latter song sees the entire cast return to the stage with confetti cannons covering the majority of the audience on the ground floor. The number of people who say they were there in years to come will provide exceed the venue capacity three times over.
Addendum: Operation Chainmail
One final note, following a national media black out that North Korea would be proud of, a reveal was done late on 21st December where it was announced that some 50+ people had all worked together to send cards, mementoes, thoughts and other general well wishes on a cumulative 7,000 mile journey around the UK before delivering the whole package in the beautiful box that you see here to the man himself. Such is the love and loyalty Ginger generates amongst his many admirers.
Si Easton who made it can be found here:
SETLIST & ARTIST LINE-UP
Only Henry Rollins Can Save Us Now
That’s A Nasty Habit You’ve Got There
Forget About It – (with Dave McPherson of InMe on vocals)
Body Parts – (with Scott and Fudge of Exit_International on bass)
Girls Are Better Than Boys – (Silver Ginger 5 song) (with David Ryder-Prangley of Rachel Stamp on lead vocals)
Only Lonely – (with both Denzel and Robin Guy of Rachel Stamp on drums – two complete kits were placed side by side)
Rats – (Mutation song) (with Ginger on drums, Denzel on guitar, Givvi Flynn on vocals and Jase Edwards on lead guitar)
Country Boy – (Howling Willie Cunt cover) (with Jake Szufnarowski on lead vocals, Vix Vox of Fuzzbox on vocals, Jase Edwards on lead guitar)
If You Find Yourself in London Town – (with Micko Larkin of Courtney Love Band on guitar)
Black Valentine – (Hey! Hello! song) (with Saffron of Republica on lead vocals, The Rev, Ai and Toshi of Hey! Hello!)
Couple Trouble – (with Lee Small on lead vocals)
White Lies – (Jason & The Scorchers cover) (Warner E Hodges of J&tS guitar/vox, Jason Knight bass, Ritch Battersby drums for rest of show)
My Baby Is a Headfuck – (The Wildhearts song) (with Paul-Ronny Angel on lead vocals, Rich Jones of The Loyalties etc on guitar)
Nita Nitro – (The Wildhearts song) (with both Denzel and Ritch Battersby on drums)
TV Tan – (The Wildhearts song) (with Hollis J of Love Zombies on vocals)
Sick of Drugs – (The Wildhearts song) (with Tom Spencer of the Yo-Yo’ s/Loyalties etc on lead vox/gtr, Rich Rags of Loyalties on guitar)
Mindslide – (The Wildhearts song) (Chris Gordon of Baby Chaos/ Deckard lead vox, Givvi Flynn vox, Jo Dog Almeida of Dogs D’Amour on guit)
Mazel Tov Cocktail – (The Wildhearts song) (Chris Catalyst gtr, Nathan Connolly of Snow Patrol gtr, Sami Yaffa of Michael Monroe Band bass)
Give the Girl a Gun – (The Wildhearts song) (with Stuart Higgins on bagpipes, Beki Bondage and Paul-Ronny Angel on vocals)
Bipolar Baby – (The Wildhearts song) (with Yolanda Quartey on lead vocals)
If Life Is Like a Lovebank I Want an Overdraft – (The Wildhearts song)
Weekend (5 Long Days) – (The Wildhearts song)
Woah Shit, You Got Through – (The Wildhearts song) (Dom Lawson of Oaf on bass/vox, Toshi also on bass, Jon Poole on lead guitar)
Everlone – (The Wildhearts song) (with Darren Beale and Jett of UK Subs)
Suckerpunch – (The Wildhearts song) (with both Denzel and Ritch Battersby on drums)
29 x the Pain – (The Wildhearts song) (with Chris Gordon on lead vocals)
I Wanna Go Where the People Go – (The Wildhearts song) (Chris ‘Christmas’ McCormack on guitar, plus everyone else from the whole night on stage at once)