Setzer, Rocker and Phantom back together in the same room recording kick-ass rock and roll after forty years together.  who’d have thought that?

Whilst they might be plying their tried and tested trade they’ve never been about reinventing the wheel they just want to preserve 1950’s Rock and Roll as best they can and look cool as doing it.  Whilst techniques have changed and equipment has changed dramatically – Hell, how we listen to our music has also changed significantly over the last decade never mind forty years!

I guess it doesn’t matter what decade or timeline you’re preaching from if it ain’t got no soul it can’t Rock and Roll and the one things The Stray Cats can still do all the decades later is Rock and Roll and they’ve never forgotten how to write a tune or two either.

The album was recorded as a live band in a room in a couple of takes, pretty much as you’d hear them live I guess which in today’s money is a nuts way to do things and would puzzle a new bunch of kids.  Most people don’t even spend time in the studio together they post in their parts and record ’em at home for the most part. To go back to the old school is a brave move even for these cats but the rewards are a rich sound that full of vitality and vibrancy.

Twelve cuts of prime lean Stray Cats is expected and to be fair the trio duly delivers the goods  No special guests, no studio trickery – No autotune no sirs. It’s not so much the standard Rockabilly tunes that do it for me either, it’s the curveballs that I’m gonna champion.

Sure they kick off in super safe territory with the familiar shuffle of ‘Cat Fight’, ‘Rock It Off’ and ‘Got Love If You Want It’.  All fairly safe even if they’re done to perfection this is the stuff these three can do in their sleep.  It’s the rougher ‘Cry Danger’ that sets this record alight for me with its rolling guitar lick from Setzer and the cool backbeat that makes it a fine fine tune. Some impressive guitar playing from one of the greats but very understated.  A top tune.

To follow that with the excellent ‘I Attract Trouble’ which is the coolest song they’ve come up with for many a year.  again a great riff and throwing in a ‘pipeline’ riff as the swamp tone is smokin’.  You can settle down then for some classic rock and roll fifties style with ‘When Nothing Going Right’ being an uptempo song that’s cool as but I’m not sure there was any need to throw in a mid-tempo instrumental in the middle with ‘Desperado’ but hey nobody said it was perfect.

If you’re looking for that smoldering ballad to close this bad boy then have a word with yourself because ‘I’ll Be Looking Out For You’ is a mean uptempo scorcher and one of the best tunes on offer and its a joy to hear Setzer let rip on that old Gretsch of his but they leave no room for a soft song for tough guys instead ‘Devils Train’ is swashbuckling and a really good ending to a well above average record.  I was hoping it was going to be good but I think to be fair its exceeded my expectations, by including a few really good songs that aren’t so formulaic and honoring that traditional 50s structure is great to hear even after all these years that The Stray Cats can challenge themselves whilst keeping the quality of the songs so high.  So ’40’ is a big Yes from me and if you like a bit of old school teaching you new tricks in these fast-moving times then you won’t go far wrong with this new Stray Cats record.

Buy ’40’ Here

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Author: Dom Daley

The Making Of ’40’

Watch behind the scenes of the making of '40'

Posted by Stray Cats on Monday, 11 March 2019

I know what you’re thinking,” just who the fuck are Dboy?”

I thought exactly the same when just a few days before this gig I was instructed by the one and only Simon Phillips (yes he of Cheap Sweaty Fun fame) that I had to go to this show at all costs, “this band are the new Turbonegro” he boldly claimed, ”yeah Turbonegro or The Dead Boys”.

High praise indeed I’m sure you will agree…. but most importantly he had me intrigued.

A couple of Bandcamp listens later (I’ll never truly understand the anti-streaming brigade like multi-millionaire Steve Lukather I really won’t) and I’ve secured a ticket for tonight’s show, the last on the band’s debut UK visit. £6 is all it cost me and I feel like Charlie Bucket as I bowl up to Clwb Ifor sixth sensing I’m about to witness something very special indeed.

Also on the bill tonight are two local supports; Nigel, who plough a late 80s early 90s alt rock furrow seemingly intent of making me dig out my Chuck Mosely era Faith No More LPs when I get back home, by splicing the agit punk undertones of that band with some of the more “out there moments” from Pearl Jam into one glorious cacophony of sound. Plus there’s The Vega Bodegas who take the influence gene pool of their predecessors and add a twist of the pop suss of Grunge complete with the dry sense of humour that only growing up in the south Wales valleys can gift you. ‘Complete History of Witchcraft’ which comes complete with frontman/guitarist Jimmy telling a seemingly true story of sitting next to a witch on an Easyjet flight is for me the highlight of the band’s uber tight set. Before a frenzied ‘Monkey Ate The Monkey’ also sees Nigel re-join the band on stage for one last foray into the mosh pit. I can’t help but wonder what chaos these two might be able to conjure up if they were ever to head off on a tour of the UK’s fast diminishing smaller live venues.

The delights of which tonight’s headliners have been experiencing for themselves this past week or so, but then again when you have escaped the Gulags of Russia just to be able to deliver your debut record, I’m sure stomaching a few motorway breakfasts will seem like a dawdle by comparison.

Granted the Soviet refugees decamped to Canada back story that Dboy trade on might be bending the truth just a little bit, but the trio’s mission statement regarding “ending sonic austerity” is one we should all buy into. I mean just yards away there is a venue promoting tribute bands like they are the live music scene’s one and only salvation, and that brothers and sisters I can assure you they are fucking not, bands like Dboy are the salvation and their debut album   ‘Prove Your Love – Live in Belem’ is one I demand you all go out and buy! It’s brilliant in its ability to stun the listener.

Hitting the stage (okay make that floor) with their sublime ‘Dboy for President’ single, I’m immediately mindful of that original comparison Mr Phillips made regarding the mighty Turbonegro. Yes they sound like them (well early days Turbo anyway), yes they have an instantly recognisable image and yes they also have a horde of insane fans (all wearing balaclavas) who seemingly worship the band.  There’s no messing around either as the band take us on a rip ride of 13 songs in what must have been 20 minutes maximum, and as the masked bass player launches himself into his devoted Scouts (that’s what the band’s fans like to be known as) I can’t help adding the muthafucking Dwarves to the list of influences Dboy display.

Special mention must go to the band’s masked drummer who not only hammers his kit like he’s on a hand forging episode of Forged in Fire but also somehow manages to out mince the king of mincing the legendary Pål Pot Pamparius in the process.

Finishing with the double whammy of ‘Born With A Hard On’ and the awesome ‘Three Piece Band’ before then trashing their backline and this ensuring no encore, tonight once again reinforced the fact that great live bands playing original music are still out there, you just need to do the digging, or have your mates do it for you.

Simon Phillips, I owe you one.

Author: Johnny Hayward

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Not been so wet recently as summer seems to have graced Shit Island so let’s give you a few tunes to mull over on your Monday travels to work.  first up from Derby brothers Johnny and George Marriott, PET NEEDS play fractured party music (apparently)  so you decide but we think ‘How To Perfectly Pretend’ is a pretty good introduction to the band that I’m sure we’ll all be hearing a lot more form.

 

 

If that didn’t impress you how about this bunch of loons. Dboys is the name punk fuckin’ rock is their game.  Check out this video before we hit you with a live review this very week.

Finally, take a squizz at this absolute cracker courtesy of Hillbilly Moon Explosion.  Sparky from Demented Are Go features on ‘Jackson’ taken from their new album out this week on Jungle records.

The Minack is an open-air theatre carved into the cliff face at Porthcurno, 4 miles from Lands End, in the South of Cornwall. It is one of the most spectacular venues in the world, with the most dramatic, natural backdrops you could ever imagine. Seeing a band here has always been on my bucket list, but the opportunity or the right band has never arisen…until now.

The Levellers have been a constant on my stereo for over 25 years. I first saw them live at an Anti Nazi League festival at Brockwell Park in ’94 with The Manics and Credit To The Nation. At the time they were at their peak, they even headlined the Pyramid stage at Glastonbury that year. I had already been force fed them for 12 months by my flat mate, but they didn’t really click with me, not until I saw them live.

 

It’s a beautiful day (no pun intended)! With no chance of rain or even a cloud in the sky, we take to our seats and admire the beautiful setting, as the sun slowly disappears behind us and the green/blue waves lap against the rocks below us, as if they are also trying to get a glimpse and join in with the fun.

Pictures can’t really do the surroundings any justice and it is difficult to describe how steep the incline is. Let’s just say, if you suffer from vertigo this would not be your ideal evening.

The seating areas are granite pews, many areas covered with grass as padding for your weary ass. The stage area is also granite; to the left a smaller circular raised stage framed by an archway that leads out to the cliffs and the sea.

This is the first of two sold-out shows and the venue is at its maximum 750 capacity. So we squeeze in and take our seats, as around us rockers, ravers and lovers settle for the evening with tinnies and pasties or just a hot coffee for company. As we await 3 Daft Monkeys, it’s clear that bringing a jacket and a flask of Jack Daniels was definitely a good idea.

 

3 Daft Monkeys have been around for nearly 20 years and have regularly supported The Levellers. The Cornish-based four-piece are a full-on gypsy folk band of the highest order. And their good time party songs are the perfect warm up. Singer Tim Ashton is an engaging frontman, along with fiddle player Athene Roberts, who looks like she has stepped out of a Somerset field circa 1994, a drummer who has no drumsticks and a bassist with one too many strings on his bass. They insist on crowd participation, in part to try and attract the dolphins, which sadly never appear.

While the inclusion of three members playing tin whistles is a bit twee for my tastes, overall it’s an entertaining and enjoyable set, full of mournful fiddle and quirky lyrics. The likes of ‘Year Of The Clown’ and ‘Days Of The Dance’ offer much, and it’s easy to see why these guys are regulars on the summer festival circuit.

High energy tunes with rustic, Parisian charm. 3 Daft Monkeys are best seen in a tent at 2am with a can of cider in your hand and a doobie in the other. Well worth checking out.

The years have been good to The Levellers. They may no longer be the angry punks they were in the 90’s, but their socially conscious message is even more relevant than it was 25 years ago. While the touring and record releases are more sporadic then they were back in the day, the band still have something to say. And now they have their own record label and their very own Beautiful Days festival to continue doing things on their own terms.

 

If you have heard the recent ‘We The Collective’ album, then you will know what to expect from an acoustic Levellers show. Tonight, the 6 piece band are joined by a string section and an extra percussionist. With a set that mixes up both old and new songs, deconstructed and rearranged, to bring something new to something old.

Vibrant string arrangements take charge as acoustics and keys take a background role. Opener ‘Exodus’ is a sprawling, cinematic piece of beauty, as 3 violins and a lone cello work the melodies in perfect harmony for vocalist Mark Chadwick to deliver his, still fiery vocals.

The chorus of ‘England My Home’ still bursts with the energy and the passion it did 30 years ago. Beautiful vocal harmonies intertwine with fiddles, strings and banjo, as we breathe the salty sea air.

It’s a chilled affair and ‘Edge Of The World’ and even ‘Alone In This Darkness’ seems quite fitting, as we chillax and watch the surroundings slowly disappear as the world around us ushers in the night and the hues of blues and gentle reds and oranges projected from above, slowly take over and silhouette the band.

 

The Simon Friend led tunes seem especially poignant and emotive tonight. ‘Elation’ With didgeridoo action and beautiful, haunting backing vocals from the cello player, give extra special mystical and celtic vibes. And ‘Men-An-Tol’, well it just seems to have been written to be played right here and right now.

The usually animated bassist Jeremy Cunningham takes a background role and is not involved in several songs musically. He sits, ever smiling, nods his head and sings along, his heavy red dreads bouncing along with the beat. Every now and again he looks up at the crowd as if he has just remembered where he is, transfixed by a view even he and his well travelled band are not that used to.

Old favourites such as ‘Julie’ and ‘Hope Street’ get a welcome airing alongside lesser known tracks such as ‘Drugs Bust McGee’ and ‘61 Minutes Of Pleading’ in a great set that ends with the obligatory crusty anthem ‘One Way’.

‘Subvert’ with its stabs of strings and dramatic drums is like a call to arms and takes things to another level, love it. And the sublime encore of ’15 Years’ proves you can take an upbeat classic, take it down a notch or two and still breathe new life into an old dog.

These beautiful surroundings are not far from where I grew up, and witnessing a band I admire sing a bunch of songs that I have loved for many years, it’s almost a spiritual experience. I can’t say I have ever seen a band play a gig with the sea as their backdrop, and I hope the opportunity arises again.

The gods shone down and granted us the perfect weather for The Levellers to entertain in a setting that is perfect for their music. It sure was a beautiful day.

Author: Ben Hughes

Pictures courtesy of  Roz Hughes

‘Forever’ is the new album from alt-country rebels Vandoliers. Following their first two albums ‘Ameri-Kinda’ (2016) and ‘The Native’ (2017), ‘Forever’ is their first record to be released through Bloodshot Records.

Hailing from Dallas, Vandoliers are among the new wave of country music coming out of Texas. Blending classic country styles with triumphant and punchy punk rock, the band soaks up many of the subgenres that surround them. If you want blues, country, rock ‘n’ roll and a touch of cowpunk and Tejano, this album has it all.

The album kicks off with ‘Miles and Miles’, and steeped in country fiddle the song offers that typically American sound of roadworn weariness, a theme that can be found throughout, such as in ‘Sixteen Years’ and ‘Nowhere Fast’, with the added interest of Tejano sounds that are made full use of throughout. If you’re expecting a record full of lyrics about spit, sawdust, fist-fights and lonesome nights, you won’t be disappointed. While some songs, such as ‘Troublemaker’ are forceful, unapologetically raucous numbers, songs such as ‘Fallen Again’ and ‘Cigarettes in the Rain’ offer a more introspective theme.

The album consistently lies on the edge of a well-produced chaos. And while the slick production represents a very modern band, (just listen to the harmonies and melodies of the poppy ‘All on Black’) the songwriting and wide array of instruments ensure that the record crashes energetically from one song to the next. It rarely lets up. ‘Shoshone Rose’ manages to combine a lot of it into one song – from an opening reminiscent of ZZ Top’s ‘Rhythmeen’, it tumbles effortlessly into something both country and pop.

‘Forever’ is a confident and boastful album mixing classic Americana with modern, full production. The country sounds, punk attitude and anthemic choruses places Vandoliers somewhere between Social Distortion, Rank and File and the Dropkick Murphys, and fans of any of these would certainly find something to enjoy here.

Author: Craggy Collyde

Buy ‘Forever’: Here

As part of Alt-Rockers Press Clubs European Tour their Cardiff date was the final headline show on the tour and opening tonight are PeachFuzz who are a three-piece band from Bridgend and are the vehicle for the excellent songsmith that is Adam Jones.  tonight they open up with a short but sweet burst through their box of excellently crafted songs such as ‘Where Do I Stand’ and ‘Kicking My Heart Around’ and the audience warms to their craft as Adam shows that its not only the likes of Bob Mould or Evan Dando who can write great alternative music and turn the guitars up just as they were hitting their stride with ‘Down To Me’ and ‘Lets Get Healed’ it was time to call it a night but I’m sure anyone in the audience who was new to their songs would have been impressed with what they heard.

Next up were human Heat and their alternative tunes – again a three-piece again influenced by the American College scene of Dinosaur Jr and Husker Du but quite different to Peachfuzz the band alternated between the two vocalists for their Emo screamo tunage. There seemed to be a lot of Against Me happening at times as well as big dollops of Taking Back Thursday but whilst they went down well it wasn’t really my thing at all.

Then came the headliners led by the hyperactive  Natalie Foster who couldn’t stand still and led from the front with a wonderful voice full of passion and conviction.  She drew every ounce out of her performance as she worked the room really well. the band sounded like a band who’d been on the road a while and were comfortable with their surroundings as they crashed through songs like the rush of ‘Let It Fall’ or the anthemic ‘Crash’ but the band have enough catchy songs that will see them a success and the obvious work ethic that sees them travel halfway around the world to entertain a room full of strangers in Cardiff.

Seemingly genuinely chuffed that people are into what they are about and singing along to songs like the epic ‘My Bodys Changing’ and the excellent ‘Suburbia’ the album ‘Late Teens’ was obviously well represented and for the hour on stage they showed a hunger and passion for the music that was infectious and a joy to behold.  I’m sure the next time they sweep through South Wales it won’t be in the small room of Clwb Ifor on a school night it’ll be a much bigger room regardless of what night of the week.  Great effort guys see you again no doubt.

 

 

 

Author: Dom Daley

Bandcamp: Press Club

Bandcamp: Human Heat

Bandcamp: Peachfuzz

Re-scheduled the Rolling Stones US and Canada tour dates. As of today, we are delighted to announce the new dates and all of the cities from the previous postponed shows are locked in, starting at Soldier Field in Chicago on June 21st and including a brand new date in New Orleans!

 

JUNE 2019

21 – Soldier Field CHICAGO, IL

25 – Soldier Field CHICAGO, IL

29 – Burl’s Creek ONTARIO, CANADA

JULY 2019

03 – FedExField WASHINGTON, DC

07 – Gillette Stadium FOXBORO, MA 

14 – Mercedes-Benz Superdome NEW ORLEANS, LA**

19 – TIAA Bank Field JACKSONVILLE, FL 

23 – Lincoln Financial Field PHILADELPHIA, PA 

27 – NRG Stadium HOUSTON, TX 

AUGUST 2019

01 – MetLife Stadium EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ (original date was Jun 13)

05 – MetLife Stadium EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ (original date was Jun 17)

10 – Broncos Stadium at Mile High DENVER, CO 

14 – CenturyLink Field SEATTLE, WA 

18 – Levi’s® Stadium SANTA CLARA, CA

22 – The Rose Bowl PASADENA, CA 

26 – State Farm Stadium GLENDALE, AZ 

31 – Hard Rock Stadium MIAMI, FL

 

Tickets sold for the original date will be honoured – fans do not need to exchange their tickets. Those who cannot attend the re-scheduled date can refund their tickets by accessing their Ticketmaster account. For transferred tickets, the refund will go to the fan who originally bought the tickets, once they have been transferred back. You can contact Ticketmaster here.

**Tickets for New Orleans will go on general sale Friday May 31, at 10am (local time). The pre-sale for the Rolling Stones mailing list will run from 10amon Wednesday May 29 to 10pm on Thursday May 30 (local time).

We apologise again for any inconvenience the re-scheduling of these dates may have caused you and hope to see you at a show very soon!

 

When this tour was officially announced I think just about everybody connected with RPM, booked their tickets for a venue somewhere in the UK, not just for a re-invigorated Wildhearts, but to check out the late addition of Towers of London to open the proceedings.

 

As the time approached I got really excited by the thought of a night with such a variety of music on one bill!

 

It’s been a while since I caught up with the Wildhearts live, I’ve dipped in and out of them since the early days, (I remember catching them supporting a fledgling Manic Street Preachers in Cardiff University) as well as numerous festival and venue appearances, even catching Ginger on his Ghost in the Tanglewood foray into Americana. But the real kicker for me was the addition of Towers of London to this 3 band bill. I’d never managed to catch them back at the height of their notoriety, when they were being touted as Britain’s answer to G’N’R, it seemed like every week they’d hit the press with their latest outrageous incident or behavior, building to a frenzy that resulted in the group exploding, the music they created actually getting lost in the carnage.

Opening with “I’m a Rat” I think you could have picked my jaw off the floor, and I think the smile just got bigger as the gig went on. I couldn’t believe how tight and in your face the music sounded, how focused the musicianship and how much the band seemed to be enjoying things. Do you know what that enjoyment spread to an ever-increasing crowd and by the time we hit set closer “Fuck it up” the audience was well involved. To me, it seemed that the band had relaxed, stopped playing up to a tabloid image and were there for the music, for the crowd and to give things a real shot. It will be interesting to see in the future the support slots they pick up and if rumours are confirmed there’s a real biggie coming up which will connect them to an audience better suited to their brand of Punk/R’n’R. But ultimately if the new LP due hits the heights of this live performance they’ll be headlining SWX in their own right.

 

In the lull between Towers of London and Massive Wagons, I had cause to smile at a conversation between two Massive Wagons fans, noticeable by the T-Shirts about how easy it had been to get tickets for the Pink gig in Cardiff! Made me think about how diverse their audience is and how easily they could cross into the mainstream, which they seem to make a hell of a fist of doing. Now at this point I feel I have to be upfront and honest, I don’t particularly like their take on classic Rock, don’t get me wrong they are great at what they do but for me music has to have a sprinkle of stardust, something that sets it aside, an edge if you like, there is no edge to Massive Wagons.

Nothing I saw in the stage show changed my mind in any way, but I was very much in the minority, they went down a storm.

Waiting for the main Act to hit the stage thoughts drifted to what type of Wildhearts performance we were going to get, I needn’t have worried, with the p.a. turned up to 11 they hit the stage to a storming version of “Dislocated” from the new LP Renaissance men, and the drive and energy of the band hit you straight away, what an aural onslaught! Every time I catch the Wildhearts live my thoughts is always how clever the band is, how catchy the songs and how huge they should be, maybe this LP will put them right on the top of the pile.

Rolling into “Suckerpunch”, leading on to “Sick of Drugs” you could feel the paint peeling from the wall’s, this was one of those performances that made a statement. Without going into every song, I don’t think there was a weak track played or performed tonight, standouts in the main set for me? “Urge”, “Caffeine bomb” and “Love you til I don’t”.

But the band weren’t done we had a monster encore with “The Renaissance men” followed by “Someone that won’t let go”, “You took the Sunshine from New York,” “Mazel Tov Cocktail”, “My Baby is a Headfuck” and the evergreen” I Wanna go where the people go”.

The Earth definitely needs the Wildhearts/ Rock and Roll needs the Wildhearts, especially a Wildhearts, flat out, throttle down, focused and delivering an LP as consistently powerful as this newbie. Happy days!!!!!

Author: Nev Brooks

Buy ‘Renaissance Men’ HERE

 

 

 

 

 

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

As part of one of my son’s activities at school, I was recently in a theater filled with elementary school age children and parents watching the new kids’ movie ‘Ugly Dolls.’ It obviously would not be a movie I would be watching if my wife and I didn’t have children, but the time as a family is priceless. I am sometimes amazed by how much I know about Peppa the Pig, the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, and the like. I have seen Thomas the Train and the Cat in the Hat get eclipsed over time with these other shows and movie characters.

 

I have lamented the lack of importance and value of music in today’s world. There seem to be fewer and fewer well-known bands and artists creating a legacy and leaving an imprint than in previous generations. Over the years, music has been a powerful tool for people from a personal level to a societal level. It has provided comfort to us when needed to help us in our times of need as well as been a soundtrack for great moments. It has courted the ire of the powers that be due to its ability to unite people behind a common goal   It has been condemned as a tool of a devil and the inspiration for teenage debauchery. I love going back through time and discovering old music. Time machines do not exist, but there is something magical about losing myself in old songs and imagining life at that time, whether it is Louis Armstrong and the Hot Five, Chuck Berry, Janis Joplin, or another artist. I love knowing what was happening at the time, what inspired the songs, and information about the artists. Those artists have also transcended time and continue to be widely known.

 

I do not see music resonating with as many people the same way today though. Music has become an inessential afterthought to the mainstream in many ways. With the internet, we have lost some of the iconic moments such as what it meant to be on the cover of Rolling Stone, being the musical artist on Saturday Night Live, having a video world premier on MTV, etc. These were significant things in our culture in the past. Musical genre did not matter as there were stars in seemingly every genre who would cross lines in terms of popularity. For example, I did not listen to country but knew who the artists were. In the 80’s, I was mainly a metal head, but my seeds of listening to everything were also planted at that time. I was listening to oldies as well as bands like Jesus and Mary Chain, INXS, and NWA. I didn’t realize at the time just how costly this form of salvation would cost me in the years to come. I even got an electric guitar around the age of 14 and had to come to grips with a hard truth- I have not one ounce of musical talent anywhere in my body. It did not stop me though from creating my own rock band in my head, writing songs (lyrics), and imagining giving interviews. After all, I had read that was what Joe Elliot of Def Leppard had done when he was younger.

I wasn’t thinking about any of this when the movie started the other night. I was wondering how loud all the kids would be during the movie, how bad the storm was outside, which way to go if one of my kids needed to go to the bathroom, and a hundred other thoughts. We sat through what seemed like 20 previews before ‘Ugly Dolls’ finally started. Almost immediately, we had the main character starting to sing a song and then other characters were contributing lines to the song. While I will say the poppy genre didn’t do it for me, I appreciated that it began with a song. Pretty soon, we had another song and then another.

 

Each song propelled the narrative in a way to engage the kids’ attention. My mind began to go down other avenues now where I thought about so many of the other animated movies and the songs that are attached to them. I have never been unfortunate enough to sit through ‘Frozen,’ but I know the hook from ‘Let It Go’ like it has been cut into my brain with a rusty nail. I can still hear the ‘Thomas the Train’ theme in my head. Just think of all the music in ‘Shrek,’ it is one of the reasons I really liked the movie. When ‘Trolls’ was recently released, both of my kids loved the music and wanted the soundtrack so they could sing along. If they hear any of the songs from the movie, they are dancing, singing, and letting me know it is from ‘Trolls.’ With all this flooding my mind, I started wondering where we are losing our passion for music and our willingness to support the artists. Kids obviously still love music. On a side note, one of my favorite scenes from ‘The Hangover’ is when Stu sings his short song while the tiger passes out from the roofies.

 

Twice per week, my son has a music class where he is exposed to different musical instruments and songs. They learn to sing songs, and some of them perform for us during the school year. I remember doing the same thing when I was in elementary school and thinking ‘Silver Bells’ was the best Christmas song in the world. I can’t tell you why; there was just something about it at that time. Band was important, even at that age to many students as they were already playing instruments, even if it wasn’t always what they wanted to be doing. Now, we have education budgets under fire with the arts being one of the first to always be on the cutting board. Perhaps, that was the same in the ’80s, and it just wasn’t part of my world at the time as I was too busy in sports to think about trying to play music. I can’t help but think though that it is part of where music as a cultural phenomena is struggling. It is being minimized, and that message is making it down to the kids.

Another possible factor is truly ironic to me. We have too much music which truly spreads popularity across so many artists that there are fewer and fewer icons. For those of us that love music, we are constantly discovering new bands and artists from all over the world. Within a day, I may discover several bands that I love such as the Dead Furies from Estonia or the Fadeaways from Japan. I might not have ever heard of these bands though back before the Internet. I am incredibly happy to have found them because I love the music. It can start to spread us thin though because there are only so many hours in a day. This month I find myself extremely excited that there are four new releases released I have been anticipating- the Darts, the Wildhearts, the Sweet Things, and the Glam Skanks. I imagine there will be someone else that suddenly appears which will also connect with me. How do I find the time to listen to all of them? Seriously, I am open to ideas on this one as the Darts and Wildhearts are already on constant rotation.

 

As the final song in ‘Ugly Dolls’ set up the final scene where the doll’s dream of being with a child is realized, I was pulled out of my thoughts and back to the hustle and bustle of getting out of the theater. I ultimately have hope that kids today will help us rediscover music and get it back to where it belongs in society. There is something to be said about people being able to remember more through the power of music such as recent studies of patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s have revealed.

 

I don’t think the platform to truly demonstrate the power of music has found itself again yet. Print magazines have sadly continued to disappear with the decline of book stores making that even more prevalent. We have wonderful music sites like this one, but we need to be in front of more people. We can be an excellent conduit for new music to the people who try and say there is no great music being made. It is being made, and it can be found all around the globe. It just takes a little more digging because it is not in heavy rotation on MTV or all over magazines at the check stands. People also do not have the record stores to lose themselves in and discover a hidden gem. The music is out there though. Let’s each make sure that we remember to tell others what music means to us, what music moves us, and why we need it in our lives.

 

Author: Gerald Stansbury