May 26, 2024

The Wildhearts – Can you have a Renaissance if you never went away?

Live at Leeds University Stylus 11th May 2019

Chuffed with their first studio album in 10 years, “Renaissance Men”, charting at number 12, The Wildhearts have made no fanfare noises about this being their thirtieth year. But it is, and that’s remarkable for a band started by someone who’d just been booted out of his post as a sidesman to The Quireboys. As a man whose debut performance with The Quireboys was opening for Guns’n’Roses, Ginger has no signs of suffering from under-confidence. In his own band, he gets a clear kick out of singing his own songs and the adoration of these most fanatical of fans.

Incredibly prolific and apparently releasing three songs a month to his fan-club, there is plenty of material to draw on and the lengthy set was packed with songs from early tracks to the new ones. Somehow the set didn’t drag – mostly due to the frenetic energy. It felt as if each song was played at double-speed (except Caffeine Bomb of course) and pauses for stage banter were few.

Ginger is a natural performer and his songs mean a lot to him, showing in the delivery. Ginger is a showman and puts on a show. Already with his high cheekbones and bandana there’s something of the pantomime pirate. As he encourages the audience to shout “Arriba” for a song from his new album, he tells them to imagine they have a pet puppy that strayed too close to the railway line and how loud they would shout. It acts as a nice counterfoil to the incredibly vigorous hard rock of the band. This band rocks very hard and very fast, with few frills. I hear 2 guitar solos in the whole evening, one of those subdued. This band runs on percussion; percussive guitars riffing hard, strummed bass and drums. Ginger inserts chorus lines and hooks to carry melodic duties.

Most people here tonight know most of the songs and the highlights see the air punched and chorus hooks sung to. Ginger and his side guitar man, CJ Wildheart have worked together a very long time and it shows in the ease of movement as they work together or alongside each other, frequently darting about or cracking a rock pose. Less mobile is the bassist, Danny McCormack, but with one artificial leg he can’t be expected to leap about.

The very packed Stylus bar adores The Wildhearts and the floor section is leaping about by the end of this 90-minute set and shouting along with “My Baby Is A Headfuck”.

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