Well, this reviewer has been to a few concerts over the years whether it’s been a stadium with thousands of people or a pub with just a few fellow gig-goers but I can honestly say I’ve never been in a church for a night of rock’n’roll antics.

When it was announced that one of my favourite artists a certain troubadour by the name of Ginger Wildheart was appearing in St. John’s church in Cardiff not only was I enticed with the thought of a night with his glorious melodies but also would i not go up in flames in such a holy setting, luckily I came out intact and not in ashes.

Ginger was also airing his new solo band the “sinners” so overall I was more excited than a kid on Christmas eve.

Ginger and his band arrived on stage to a packed St. Johns church and launched into the stunning track “The Pendine Incident” and the sound of a full electric band who were on fire with Ginger was spine-tingling. This new band the sinners didn’t sound like they were gelling on the road it sounded like they were seasoned vets having played hundreds of shows, not just one!  it was vibrant and there was definitely chemistry and tightness to suggest the band had been playing together for years, “WOW”.

“Toxins And Tea” was up next and this beauty of a “G.A.S.S” track saw Ginger in fine voice and it was great to hear it live in this setting.

Ginger announced the sad news that rock’n’roll legend Dan Baird was retiring from the live circuit and in tribute Ginger and his sinners played a fitting version of Georgia Satellites “Six Years Gone” which to be fair was glorious.

Next up was “Do You” and this track has a deep meaning for this reviewer as the song talks about the serious nature of suicide and as I struggle with depression Ginger’s music has always been such a comfort and guide and has helped me through the hard often dark times. One of the things that is so great about Ginger’s music is that he wraps often dark lyrics in a joyous uplifting melody.  so that while it is a serious subject matter it can also be uplifting to you and makes you feel better, (if that makes any sense?) The power of Ginger’s music can be such a great thing.

Moving through his repertoire we reached the Hey Hello earworm of ‘Swimwear’ and by God (excuse the pun) this was stunning with all us gig-goers singing along.

‘The Pessimist’s Companion’ was up next off the roots/country albums and is written about his dog “Maggie”. I truly feel sorry for someone who has never had a furry companion as they are indeed mans best friend. I recently lost my furry best friend “Alfie” and even though I have been feeling down and sad recently the power of music (and particularly Gingers) shines a light through the darkness.

‘(Wye aye) Oh, You’ another gem off ‘The pessimist’s Companion’ album was played and it went down a storm in this live moment atmosphere.

“Petite Mort” saw Givvi Flynn take lead vocal duties on the Yolanda Quartey vocals (who originally sang this track) Obviously I had heard of Givvi but had never had the pleasure of hearing her live and all I can say is “Wow” her voice soared as high as the church ceiling and was amazing in these truly celestial surroundings. simply stunning.

We were treated to the double whammy of ‘The Daylight Hotel’ and ‘Paying It Forward’ off Ginger’s other roots/country album ‘Ghost In The Tanglewood’ and these songs were glorious in the church surroundings.

‘Honour’ another “G.A.S.S.” gem was played next which originally had “Courtney Love” on vocals but yet again “Givvi” stepped up to the plate and smashed it out of the park with her and Ginger’s voice harmonising together beautifully.

Ginger informed us that ‘The Words Are Gonna Have To Wait’ was written about “David Bowie” and this track was a fitting tribute to such a legendary artist and being in a church who’s not to say that the legend wasn’t looking down and tapping his foot accordingly.

‘No One Smiled At Me Today’ is another one of this reviewers favs and to get to hear it in a live setting was truly magical.

Ginger recently released another excellent solo album titled ‘Headzapoppin’ and I was hoping for a track to be played off it and I was not left disappointed as “Zap” was aired and it sounded as great live as it is on record.

Next up who’d have seen the band cover the Quo classic ‘Dirty Water’. I am ashamed to say that I didn’t know this track but I really enjoyed it (my homework will be to delve into the Que catalogue).

‘Caer Urfa’ was better live than on the record may be the surroundings had it elevated.  Us Ginger fans know what a genius songwriter and musician he is but what is often overlooked is what a great singer he is and his vocals were epic on this track no doubt helped by the epic acoustics of such a high ceiling.

With that Ginger said thank you but with the crowd wanting more he said he would be back in five minutes much to the crowds and this reviewers relief and exited the stage with St. John’s church clapping and shouting for more.

Upon their return, Ginger and his Sinners played the familiar chords of ‘Geordie in Wonderland’ and bang the crowd were all singing along.

Up next would be the last song of the evening and yes, sadly all great things have to come to an end. the way the evening had panned out it was always going to go out with a bang so, What else was he going to play in a church to bring an end to a mega evening? The glorious ‘Loveshit’ (sorry God) and with that this awesome show comes to an end.

All this reviewer can say is what a memorable night this has been weather being in the stunning surroundings of St.John’s church or hearing a truly on fire band (not Due to being in church) what a magical night this has been and what a setlist we were treated too with Ginger digging deep into his classic catalogue of tunes that we rarely here live.

Please get out and see Ginger Wildheart as whatever problems you’re going through and in these tough trying times we all need some happiness and trust me, going to a Ginger show will leave you with a joker sized grin on your face and a warmth in your heart that money cannot buy.  It would be a shame if this wasn’t repeated in the future so with a quick prayer I legged it before I burst into flames. The devil on tonight’s evidence doesn’t have all the best tunes Ginger and the Sinners have them.

Author: Gareth ‘Hotshot’ Hooper

 

 

The Wildhearts are riding on the crest of a wave right now. ‘Renaissance Men’, their first album in 10 years is an absolute monster, it’s currently at number 11 in the album charts and at least 3 of these 8 dates to promote it are already sold out.

It’s not just a good time to be a Wildheart either; it’s a good time to be a Wildhearts fan. With a sizeable chunk of the back catalogue getting re-mastered and re-issued on deluxe vinyl and the promise of plenty more dates this year, it is also an expensive time to be a Wildhearts fan, but we wouldn’t want it any other way would we? In 2019, there is more interest and more excitement about this band than I can ever remember.

Re-united and re-invigorated, the classic line-up of The Wildhearts is back, but are they back for good? Only time will tell. While this current wave of excitement could open doors and see great opportunities for a band who, let’s face it, have certainly paid their dues, I keep getting this niggling feeling that it could all go drastically tits up at any moment. So let’s enjoy it while it lasts.

Talking of things going tits up… fuckin’ Towers Of London are back! Where the hell did that come from?  The original line-up that recorded the most excellent debut album ‘Blood, Sweat & Towers’ and then proceeded to burn out in a blaze of arrests and fisticuffs, are back together. There’s new music on the way too, they have unfinished business to attend to. What a time to be a rock ‘n’ roll fan!

Donny Tourette and the boys take to the stage with air raid sirens blaring and fire straight into ‘I’m A Rat’. It sounds fuckin’ ace! Dressed in matching black boiler suits and shorn of the gravity-defying hair of ten years ago, they may look a bit different, but with a newly reinstated The Rev delivering cool licks and a bare-chested Snell bashing seven shades of shit out of his kit, the band are on fire and looking like they really mean it.

While Donny’s nonchalant punk attitude is more Gallagher than Iggy, the delivery is still fantastic. ‘Beaujolais’ is punked-up to the max goodness, and newbie ‘Get Yourself Out Of Here’ with its chanting chorus and sleazy delivery is full of the right kind of attitude, it promises much for the new album.

A blistering version of ‘Fuck It Up’ surely silences any non-believers in the room and ends a high energy set from a band that is truly back to their best form.

While Towers Of London are not the fucked up kids of yesteryear, they have matured, learned a few things, but still have that edginess I desire from sleazy punk rock. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, no one can deny they were spot on tonight.

Whether they’ve got the new songs to rival the likes of the fantastic ‘Air Guitar’ or ‘On A Noose’ we will see, but I for one can’t wait to find out. Bring on new music, headline gigs and world domination then.

Now, if someone could please explain the appeal of Massive Wagons I would be most grateful, as I don’t get them at all. I’ve tried, but they are just not for me. A band fronted by a diminutive Game Of Thrones extra who sounds like Biff Byford, backed by a band who look like they scan your shopping in Aldi, call me fussy but…

Joking aside, in a live setting I can’t really fault them. They have energy, I’ll give them that much. Baz is an animated frontman and a loveable character, who can work a crowd and The Wildhearts crowd seems to love them. But that’s not enough. It would probably be ok if they had the songs, but for me, Massive Wagons just don’t have the songs, pure and simple.

I’ve seen them live several times now and my opinion hasn’t changed. I’m afraid to say I head for the bar not long into their set. Most Massive Wagons reviews I’ve read are positive, with many citing them ‘retro’. Me, I cite them ‘dated’. And in my defence I present their closing song ‘Fee, Fi, Fo, Fum’ as evidence, the cheesiest song I’ve heard in many years, and on that note I rest my case.

In all my years of seeing Wildhearts live shows, I can honestly say I have never seen a bad one, come to think of it I have never seen even an average live performance from Ginger and co, whatever the line-up has been.

Tonight is no exception, in fact tonight is probably the best I have seen them. It’s up there with the hot and sweaty Bristol Bierkeller show of ’94, its as heavy and loud as Edinburgh and Glasgow were in 2004, and it’s even as euphoric as the Chutzpah! show in Leeds 10 years ago.

From the moment Ginger cranks out that opening riff to ‘Dislocated’, the place goes nuts. Such a great response to a new song. A relentless cacophony of riffs and melodies that has the pit bouncing as one, signaling that this brand new song is already classed as a fan favourite.

It leads perfectly into ‘Everlone’, ‘Vanilla Radio’ and ‘Suckerpunch’ all delivered in quick succession, leaving no time to talk or even breathe. Going with the theme of ‘Renaissance Men’ it is a well chosen, heavy set of songs tonight. Mixing it up nicely, there are a few surprises in amongst the usual live favourites. ‘The Revolution Will Be Televised’ and ‘Jackson Whites’ are especially awesome and even ‘Urge’, which I imagined would be a disjointed mess, actually sounds amazing.

Bearing in mind that most people have only had ‘Renaissance Men’ in their ears for a week, the new songs get a great response. ‘Let ‘em Go’ was always going to go down well, it’s got a stadium-sized chorus that is up there with their finest hits. But it is ’Diagnosis’ that probably gets the best response of the whole night. What a fucking tune live! The way they build that AC/DC style riff to gain momentum, before releasing that main hook on an unsuspecting crowd, who in turn go absolutely bat-shit crazy for it. It’s a great feeling being right in the middle of the chaos for the duration. Like being a teenager discovering live music for the first time, all over again.

The band seems truly invigorated and on fire. Ginger and CJ’s vocals are spot on and the pair are full of energy, bashing out riffs and jumping in unison, giving photographers every opportunity to capture that elusive jump shot.

With bassist Danny McCormack now fit enough to make it through a whole set without needing his stool is a big, big thing. The loveable Geordie with a big heart and an even bigger bass sound just brings something special to The Wildhearts and it’s a joy to see him back where he belongs.

Post encore, the band mime through a version of ‘The Renaissance Men’ which is being videoed for a commercial single release on each night of the tour. Bit weird for all concerned, but the show doesn’t suffer or lose momentum.

A five-song encore is pretty good value at any show and with the likes of ‘Mazel  Tov Cocktail’, ‘My Baby Is A Headfuck’ and ‘I Wanna Go Where The People Go’  rounding the evening off nicely, who could ask for more?

 

Where The Wildhearts go from here is anyone’s guess, but my advice is to go out of your way, sell your children or steal money if you have to, but whatever you do, do not miss The Wildhearts live right now, as they are on top of their game.

 

Buy Renaissance Men HERE

Author: Ben Hughes

Photographs: Neil Vary

You’re currently on tour with Michael Monroe and are about to hit the UK with MC50.  Must be cool gig to get playing in a band with Michael, Sami, Steve and Karl and then getting to play as guests with the likes of Wayne Kramer must be a dream job?

Oh yeah, I mean I grew up with the Hanoi Rocks stuff and I loved it, and these guys are some of my best friends in the world. It’s a rare situation being in a band where there isn’t one arsehole who makes it a nightmare being on the bus, haha. We all get along so great and I think you can see that onstage as well. And those guys are total badasses at what they do so it makes it so easy every night onstage when you know you can rely on everyone else to be killing it. 

The MC50 thing is great for us as well, hopefully, it’ll get us out in front of some people who might not know us and may be surprised by what this band is all about. I think it’s a great fit. Hopefully, we don’t get bottled off! 

You’ve also just finished recording the new album.  When can we all get to hear the new songs?

Hopefully soon, but I’d guess sometime in the spring. We’ve taken our time with it, making sure the mix is right and that that the record is the best it can possibly be. So we’re just going into mastering now, we haven’t really even thought about release dates yet.

How does the writing work within the band?  What with you guys spread out all over the globe?

It really depends. For ‘Blackout States’ I went to NYC with Steve and Karl and we spent a week working out ideas and then finished them up at home. This time we couldn’t really manage to find the time when we could do something like that so everyone did a lot of work at home and then sent demos around. Steve and I will find hotel time when we can and bash around ideas – we wrote one of the new ones in Tokyo last year – but mostly it’s been a case of sending finished songs to each other.

You’ve also gotten together with a few Black Halos to record a new record with those guys as well? Do you get bored easily? 

Ha! I just try to keep busy, I don’t like having a lot of down time. The Black Halos thing has just been rolling along slowly, I try to work on stuff when I have gaps in my schedule. We’ve got enough songs for a record now but we don’t really have a complete band line-up. Jay Millette from the original Halos lineup just played on some stuff but I don’t think he really wants to tour these days. John Kerns has been playing bass and I’d love it if he’d come along for the live shows as well. We’ll see. Karl Rockfist played drums on some stuff and so did TV from Radio Dead Ones. There’s not a lot of pressure on this stuff yet, we’ll probably make some real plans once we’ve recorded a full album. Right now it’s just a bunch of demos and a few finished-sounding songs.

Do you have to get into a different mindset when writing for The Monroes perspective compared to the Black Halos or with Rags?  is there a different pressure involved?

I wouldn’t call it pressure, although I suppose it was at first with Monroe. There’s such a high standard of writing with that band that I was worried that my songs weren’t going to be up to scratch. But now it’s pretty relaxed for me, I kind of know what works and what doesn’t which makes things a lot easier. So I wrote a lot more for this new record than I did for Blackout States. As with anything though, you need to get into a certain mindset for what suits the band and the people that you’re working with. So I know what’ll work for the Halos, and what’ll work for Michael. 

With Rags it’s usually just me and him having a bunch of drinks and a laugh and if something comes out of it, cool. He’s such a great, prolific writer that my involvement in his stuff is usually pretty minimal – I’ll maybe say ‘change a chord here’ or ‘try this bridge’ etc. The bulk of the work is always coming from him.

I don’t suppose you’re going to give away any of the titles of the songs or give us any idea as to what to expect?  

For the Monroe record? Well, I don’t want to give too much away right now. It’s a much more broad record than Blackout States. There’s still some raging punk rock but there’s a lot more diversity in the stuff. I mean we’re not going funk or anything but I think it sounds like a band that’s getting comfortable enough to stretch out more than in the past. We’ve got some great guests on it as well – Nasty Suicide plays some guitar and it’s the first time he’s recorded with Michael and Sami in something like 25 years. So that was cool to be a part of. There’s a couple of other people on there as well. Some surprises 😉 

The artwork and merch also involve yourself and you’ve certainly been responsible for some amazing pieces.  Do you have a particular favourite sleeve you’ve come up with? does it get inspired by the music or are you always coming up with new ideas?

No, I tend to look for inspiration once I get a job. Normally I ask if someone’s looking for a certain vibe and then work from there. It depends on how much free reign I get as well – some bands that I’ve worked with in the past want to let every member have their say in things and it ends up as a sort of ‘design by committee’ situation and that pretty much always turns out awful. As far as favourite stuff that I’ve done… it’s hard to pick one. Feel free to go check ‘em out at my website though *cough* turningrebellion.com. haha

It must be inspiring working with such talented and creative people. You’ve always surrounded yourself with people who work really hard at their passion.  Are there some projects that really stand out that you’ve been involved in?

Honestly, it’s this band. Everyone’s got such a great work ethic and we all complement each other really well. Making records with these guys is such a blast – it’s an amazing feeling hearing my home demos get taken to the next level and turned into these fully-realised songs. I love working with Ginger and Jon Poole as well – two absolutely insanely talented guys who push me to work harder and be better at what I do when I’m around them. When we’re not in the pub, that is.

Taking a look at what you’ve done so far take us back to where it all began.  what or who were the main reason you got into playing the guitar and wanted to be in a band?

Oh that’s an easy one. My parents took me to see Queen when I was 8 and that was it. Brian May ripping into the Bohemian Rhapsody guitar solo COMPLETELY sold me on playing music! So by the time I was 12 or 13 I had bands with my school friends playing Black Sabbath and Judas Priest covers (because that’s all I could really manage to learn how to play – Paranoid and Breaking The Law!) and then I never really stopped. Early records I loved were things like Adam & The Ants and The Pretenders. David Bowie. Then I took a little turn into metal for a while – I’ve seen Iron Maiden so many times dude, hahaha! But funnily it was those Hanoi records that made me look back to stuff like the New York Dolls and Johnny Thunders. Seeing the Ramones when I was 18 or 19. Discovering Stiv Bators catalogue of stuff. You know, you keep looking and finding new music and it leads you down these little paths of discovery. I still love it to this day. There’s so much great new music out there that makes me want to keep playing and writing.

You’ve played on plenty of records over the years are there any that people might be surprised to find you had a hand in?

Probably the weirdest one is a single that I recorded a few years ago for Andy Cairns’ birthday. It’s me, Michael McKeegan & Neil Cooper from Therapy?, Tim Wheeler from Ash, Ricky Warwick, Diamond Dave (beloved radio host) and we were called The Gemils. We covered Another Girl, Another Planet and also did one original song called Purveyor Of Quackery. Only 10 vinyl copies of the single were pressed and they were given out to the band members and Andy for his 50th birthday. Possibly the rarest single ever! 

When you’re writing songs how do you go about it?  Is it a guitar part like a riff or a melody that comes first and do you come up with lyrics as well and hows your drumming?

It can be anything. Sometimes it’s a riff or a melody but usually I get a spark for a lyric and start working it into a chorus. I often get ideas while I’m out walking my dogs so I end up quietly singing them into my phone while pretending I’m on a phone call so people don’t think I’m an absolute lunatic. From there it’s a case of working out melodies and writing lyrics that fit. So generally speaking when I’m writing for Michael I’ll try to inhabit his headspace a bit and then write the lyrics from that point of view. Then I’ll demo it all up at home and send the guys a complete song. As for my drumming, well that’s what drum machines are for my friend!

What’s the best thing about your job? Live? Studio?  the creative aspect of writing?  and on the flip side what do (if anything) you least look forward to.  (Travel) (hanging around) making a video or waiting for the records to come out once they’ve been finished?

Touring is fun for sure. Being on the bus, playing the shows – I love those parts of it. I like making records and designing merch, doing the album artwork. That’s all a lot of fun. The airports and soundchecks, missing my family and the endless hours of waiting around I could live without. I’m not a fan of photoshoots and making videos either but they’re a necessary evil, haha. Honestly though, I really can’t complain about anything – this is my day job and it’s the best job in the world. 

A few quick questions.

Do you have a favourite song to play with Michael?

You know, it’s a blast playing pretty much everything in the set. It’s nice to be able to change things up and play some new stuff but I’m not sure I have a favourite. Right now we’re doing an acoustic set in the middle of the show and that’s a lot of fun because it’s something different and refreshing. But then I also like bashing people over the head with the punk rock hammer as well

How does it work when picking a set list?  

There’s just some stuff that we have to play. It’s expected that we’ll play some Hanoi and we’ll play some of the bigger solo songs. So there’s stuff that’s just always there and then we try to mix up the rest of the set as much as we can. I try to stay out of it for the most part because having 5 guys try to pick 20 songs over email is an endless and frustrating experience, haha!

Are all the Hanoi songs fair game and what would you like to play that hasn’t been in the set list yet?

Yeah I guess so. I haven’t really thought about it too much. We’re not gonna play any of the Hanoi ‘reunion’ stuff but we’ll dig into the original band’s material a lot. Right now we’re playing ‘Lost In The City’ and ‘Lightnin’ Bar Blues’ which we’ve never done before. As for stuff I’d like to play – I just want this new record out so we can play some new songs!

When the Monroe album comes out can we in the UK expect a headline tour?  what about some summer dates and a return to Rebellion after this years show-stealing performance easily the best set played at the festival by anyone.

I’m sure we’ll be back to the UK sometime next year. We’d love to do Rebellion again if they’ll have us – it was a blast! I really wasn’t sure how we’d go over but the crowd was fantastic. So we’re looking at summer festival offers now and we’ll see what happens. We’ve got a few in Spain already and hopefully, we’ll get back over to see you guys as well. I think things will become a little more clear once we’ve got the album ready to go!

Thanks for your time Rich hopefully I’ll catch you on a show somewhere sometime in the near future and I look forward to hearing all this new music you’ve been recording.  Exciting times.

Thank you, Dom, always a pleasure! Hope to see you soon

Ginger Wildheart – solo artist and frontman of rockers The Wildhearts – has re-launched his own record label – the label he formed back in 1994.

And to celebrate, Ginger is releasing ‘G*A*S*S* MK II’ on double gatefold sleeve vinyl, Compact Disc and Direct Download.

The album features 13 songs recorded as part of Ginger’s 2014 year-long ‘G*A*S*S* project, which saw the prolific songwriter record and release three songs every month direct to fans who subscribed to the project (subscribers also received additional demos, artwork and stories written by Ginger).

After the year was up, Ginger released ‘Year Of The Fanclub’ a CD and vinyl which featured a collection of songs from the project.

‘G*A*S*S* Mk 2’ is the second coming.

Ginger Wildheart – GASS MK II

Says Ginger:

“‘Year Of The Fanclub’ represented some of the popular highlights but omitted some of my very favourite compositions. ‘G*A*S*S* Mk 2’ represents what I consider to be the best of ‘G*A*S*S*, those little gems where planets aligned, musicians excelled and words seem to hit targets.”

The 13-track album is only available direct from Ginger’s website and will be released on CD and double gatefold vinyl.  All the tracks have been remastered especially for the compilation by Dave Draper (Ginger Wildheart, Terrorvision, Ryan Hamilton) and the artwork has been realised by Rich Jones (Michael Monroe, The Black Halos, The Loyalties).

The album features hand written liner notes by Ginger too.

In addition to ‘G*A*S*S* Mk 2’, Round Records will also be shortly reissuing The Wildhearts’ 2007 self-titled album, as well as a brand new solo album from Ginger.

Pre-order for the ‘G*A*S*S* Mk 2’, album are here:

Round Records Here