So here we are. The first Wildhearts live show in over a year. Yet the floor is not stick underfoot, there is no queue for the toilet and the general aroma is way more pleasant than the usual mixture of body odour, alcohol and dry ice. What gives? Well, this just happens to be The Wildhearts live ‘By Request’. An online virtual gig, going out live on a Saturday night. It’s a pay-per-view show, a one-off gig experience that will not be shared or released to the general public. The rice of a ticket gets you access to the show for one live viewing only, £30 gets you a 30-day deluxe pass with over 2 hours of bonus videos.
With a set list chosen by the fans and the promise of a new song from the soon to be released ‘21st Century Love Songs’ opus, tonight promises to be the best time many of us have had since this shitstorm hit the world. So, I hook up the laptop to the TV, and sit down for the virtual doors at 7.45pm with a few tinnies and a bag of Haribo to take in the virtual live Wildhearts experience.
‘The One Before The Lights Go Out’ intro music plays as the camera pans around the dark depths of some Tudor building. Past silhouetted band members stood as still as statues, headphones on and instruments at the ready, before Ginger leads his band into a roaring version of ‘Dislocated’. Much like the coveted ‘Live In The Studio’ DVD, the cameras are close-up and personal and its actually like being down the front at a gig (remember them?). The band are in a small room facing each other, but this isn’t obvious for the majority of the 1 hour and 15-minute gig, as the camera focus is on the band members faces and their instruments for the most part. The wobbly camera work and the way the camera shots change quickly, mixed with the strobe lighting in a dark room, just adds to the drama and the intensity of the Wildhearts performance. Giving the sensation of being knocked about down the front but without the lasting bruises or the sweat and beer-drenched clothing. “Fuckin hell!” quips Ginger as the final chords of the opening song ring out.
While the show is going out live, it has been pre-recorded and mixed by Dave Draper and I must say The Wildhearts look and sound phenomenal on my TV screen. Their debut album ‘Earth Versus..’ features heavily in a fan favourite set that doesn’t really leave much to the imagination. The likes of ‘TV Tan’, ‘Shitsville’ and ‘Suckerpunch’ transporting us back to 1993. That breakdown and outro in ‘Everlone’ remains to me one of their finest moments all these years later.
‘Sick Of Drugs’, ‘Caffeine Bomb’, ‘The Revolution Will Be Televised’ follow…you know the score, no real surprises, but every song a stone-cold classic, delivered by one of the tightest bands on the planet. Ginger and CJ’s vocal harmonies are spot on, the pair’s guitars crunch just as you want them to, one in the left speaker and one in the right, just like ‘Live After Death’, baby! And the bass and drums combo sound like there’s a war going on coming out of my speakers.
Fan boy Frank Turner joins the band for the sing-a-long anthem ‘Let ‘em Go’ and ‘I Wanna Go Where The People Go’. He gives a performance that is as passionate and excitable as any true fan would give getting to sing with his heroes. And then it’s all over. Job done in 1 hour 15 minutes… leave ‘em wanting more!
Did I say more? Well, if you purchased the deluxe pass, you get a wealth of extras. Not only can you watch the gig whenever you like on your chosen media for 30 days, there are bonus interviews to watch, including Frank Turner discussing songwriting with Ginger, mental health with Danny and Rich going over his drum set up. Theres even a curry cooking lesson from CJ.
Then there’s the encore, did I mention the encore yet? New song alert! ‘Splinter’ is an intense burst of punky goodness riding on a mesmerizing 2 chord riff. Its instant, catchy as hell and well, you could say this sets things up nicely as a taster for the album of the year, which you can pre-order right now!
Usual symptoms the day after a Wildhearts gig may include: Loss of hearing, sore head, neck and throat and a pocket full of change where 50 notes used to be. Oh, and a massive grin on yer face of course! While most of those symptoms are absent for the first Wildhearts show of 2021, the grin is as wide as it was in 1993! A resounding success by all accounts, but bring on real live shows and ‘21st Century Love Songs’, we are ready and waiting.
Author: Ben Hughes