If 2019 was the year the music world once again woke up to The Wildhearts, then 2020 really should have been the year that they cemented their position as the very best seven-legged live band the UK has to offer.
Luckily for me The Wildhearts were one of the last bands I got to see live before the world was consumed by the Covid-19 pandemic, and now when I think back to that amazing Friday night headline slot at Butlin’s Punk & Alternative Weekend – where playing to a largely partisan audience they made so many new friends – I take one look at the track listing of ’30 Year Itch’ (the band’s soon to be released double live album) and I must admit I can’t help get a little robot chubby on at the prospect of hearing the band delivering the goods once again…albeit right here in my living room.
Consisting of 17 tracks spanning the length and breadth of the band’s (almost) three-decade long career – and thankfully avoiding some of the perhaps more obvious tracks – this album was recorded across both The Renaissance Men and Diagnosis tours undertaken by the band in 2019 and achieves what every great live album sets out to achieve by making you feel like you are right back in the audience stage front and centre (don’t worry though as other crowd positions are available if the pit is a bit too rough for you). Plus choosing to work once again with the wizard that is Dave Draper really does add plenty of sonic salt ‘n’ shake to proceedings, making this one of the most remarkable sounding live albums I’ve heard since Exit_International’s ‘Live At Le Pub’. Anyone spot the connection?
From the furry boxing glove opener that is ‘Dislocated’ through to the set closing – best song ever with a music video filmed on a flatbed truck – ‘I Wanna Go Where The People Go’ there is hardly a second to catch your breath as riff after motherfucking riff hit you from every direction, and whilst ‘Let ‘Em Go’ might not be in my list of all-time favourite Wildhearts’ songs it’s impossible not to be swept along in the moment and I suddenly find myself singing along at the top of my voice.
Highlights? Well hearing the likes of the sublimely brutal ‘Urge’ and err anthemic ‘Anthem’ live is most welcome in my house, whilst the huge singalongs that are ‘Sick Of Drugs’ and ‘Vanilla Radio’ are just designed to have you bouncing down the street when you plug this sucker into your in-car stereo system. Of the deeper cuts aired here ‘The Revolution Will Be Televised’ and ‘The Jackson Whites’ perfectly capture the band’s latter years, whilst in ‘Diagnosis’ (which seems to be everyone’s favourite song from 2019’s ‘Renaissance Men’ album) the guys have written perhaps their most ‘Earth V’s’ era sounding song in many a long year, and thus perhaps unintentionally brings them sonically full circle.
Whatever you may think about this point though in this current rich vein of form The Wildhearts really are a 30-year itch you can’t help but scratch, and what more, if you were lucky enough to pre-order this bad boy from the band’s website you should have also have received a bonus 4 track CD of tracks not included on the album including a blistering ‘Top Of The World’ plus a pogotastic ‘Shame On You’ before ‘Nothing Changes But The Shoes’ and ‘My Baby Is A Headfuck’ sends yours truly ambling off down memory lane via two tracks that still sound as awesome as they did when they first got me into The Wildhearts all those years ago.
‘30 Year Itch’ is truly amazing stuff! Make sure you are in on the celebrations when the double album goes back on sale via the band’s website soon.
Buy ’30 Year Itch’ Here
Author: Johnny Hayward