Live Review & Picture Credit: Adrian Hextall \ MindHex Media
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Having spent some two weeks on the road with a new look Ginger Wildheart Band, Ginger, Toshi, Conny and Denzel have played some intimate venues, many of which have sold out, all of which have been, to quote the late Robin Williams, “hot, damn hot!! Real hot! Hottest thing is my shorts. I could cook things in it. A little crotch pot cooking.”
As you picture a little ‘crotch pot cooking’ we are reminded of what happened in Cambridge. It was a gig so hot that half of the band members and crew fell ill through dehydration and the following show, a second night at the Portland Arms had to be cancelled. To that point, the tour had consisted of Massive Wagons, Ryan Hamilton & the Traitors and The Ginger Wildheart Band, or “The Ginger Wildhearts” if you were to believe the leaflets printed up by the pub.
With a day off to recover, the tour moved to London and an air conditioned Brooklyn Bowl, a venue that saw people bowling whilst the band played on. A strange mix but one that worked as this was indeed a belter.
Massive Wagons had gone off to prepare for their appearance at Ramblin’ Man Fair so their opening slot was taken by Hey!Hello!, much to the excitement of all present. The burning question of course being who would be singing for them? With vocalists going the way of Spinal Tap’s drummers, trying to work out who would sing feels like the into to classic kids cartoon Hong Kong Phooey. “It is Ginger, the mild mannered guitarist…..? Could be… After all he had taken on vocal duties with the re-recording of the latest album. What though of the six people who’d auditioned for the vacant spot a few months ago?
With no Rosemary (the telephone operator) to choose from, Cat Southall, one of the ‘Day One’ hopefuls makes her way onto stage bursting with the energy of a magnum of champagne being sprayed over the drivers on the podium after a Grand Prix. She’s literally everywhere and if she was nervous, it didn’t show. Opening with ‘Swimwear’ the band look and feel like they have a point to make. The Rev especially makes the most of his time on stage and spends most of the show seemingly suspended in mid-air as he bounces, flies and whirls his way around without dropping a single note on his beautiful mirror plated guitar.
‘Glass of Champagne’ seems appropriate given Cat’s bubbly personality and it’s followed by ‘Don’t Stop Loving The Music’ which the initially muted crowd warmed to and from that point on began to join in. Ginger looked relaxed and happy to be allowed to step into the shadows slightly and let his energised colleagues utilise every inch of the spacious stage at the Bowl.
Toshi, Ginger’s ever present bassist with the headliners on this tour brings the energy to the other side of the stage and he and Rev worked well off each other leaving the crowd constantly in a state of flux as they try and focus on everything going on. Ai of course holds everything together and is almost like the Mona Lisa of the band. Focused with the most enigmatic of smiles that belies the power and energy she brings to the band as she ‘politely’ pummels the drum kit.
If this was a trial run for Cat then she left a lasting impact with the crowd who definitely warmed to her front and centre. Her voice is a great fit for the band, she has presence and her slightly off kilter, ditzy approach feels like the missing ingredient that Hey!Hello! has been looking for. For a band that deserves massive success, this could well be the “third time lucky” that we’ve all been willing for them.
Closing with ‘The Thrill Of It All’, it’s a slightly ironic title but proves the band’s determination to not let past struggles get them down. After all who’d want to hear a song called ‘That’s Twice Now and I’m Sick of It’. I’ll go for the former. Welcome Back!
Ryan Hamilton & The Traitors
For the previous two weeks, The Ginger Wildheart Band has been on tour with Ryan Hamilton & The Traitors. Another act that Ginger has championed and, like so many before them, has resulted in the band coming on tour as well. The fans happily latch onto these recommendations and often help push things like PledgeMusic campaigns to and beyond their target levels thanks to Ginger’s Midas touch with these acts.
Ryan is no different and his pledge campaign benefited from the seemingly endless generosity of Ginger’s fanbase, eager to listen to another hot recommendation from their musical mentor. That’s not to say that Ginger’s fanbase blindly follow his lead but more that he has an ear for music that deserves a wider audience and helps make its’ presence known.
As such, Ryan & his backing band, The Traitors are greeted like old friends. Several people, myself included would have seen them perform on stage in Cambridge when it was thought that the Portland Arms show would be the nearest one to London.
With a warm atmosphere surrounding the band, they open with ‘Karaoke With No Crowd’ and ‘Records and Needles’ with the sound, if you don’t know them, an eclectic mix of Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty. The story telling is there in spades and Ryan is nothing if not engaging, with an infectious smile constantly on his face.
Supported by an energised Rob Lane on bass, a man who recognises that a good hair toss and aerial jump are the things of photographers’ dreams. As such he obliges for the entire set, rarely staying still and clearly loving every minute.
‘4 Letter Verb’ goes down a treat and before long we are treated to an anecdote about the first time Ryan had heard one man refer to a friend as a “C**T”. Typically we are led to believe it’s one of the harshest words you can use but Ryan is right when he recognises that two blokes will happily insult each other in the friendliest way imaginable, with “Alrite Dickhead” being one of the most common in this fair land.
A few ‘new’ words are offered to Ryan during audience participation time that sees firm favourite “cockwomble” mentioned again. It segues neatly into “Never Should Have Moved to L.A.” where clever placement of C.U. Next. Tuesday is inserted into the lyrics. Offering a prize to the first person who spotted the inclusion of the word in the song, one hopeful woman in the crowd suggested Rob Lane should be the prize. Ryan agreed with a laugh and what happened after the show will now become stuff of rumour and legend (mainly because I have no clue and have to make it up.)
A highlight of the London show saw Ginger join the band on stage for a cover of Reo Speedwagon’s ‘Take It On The Run’ which was rather special and wholly unexpected. Worth the price of admission alone I would say.
Our review of Ginger’s headlining set can be found HERE: