The Ginger Wildheart Band / Ryan Hamilton & the Traitors / The Main Grains - Leeds, Brudenell Social Club - 14th July 2016 Print E-mail
Written by Ben Hughes   
Tuesday, 26 July 2016 03:00

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"We've lost Lemmy, we've lost David Bowie and we've lost Prince," states Ginger Wildheart prior to introducing tonight's final encore of '29 x The Pain'. Yes, 2016 will go down as probably the worst year many of us will remember. For me personally it got even worse when my brother lost a short battle with cancer just three days before this gig.  

 

I wasn't going to go, but Dan, like me was a massive Wildhearts fan, we have shared the love of that band since seeing them support Love/Hate at Cardiff Uni back in 1992 and even when I saw him in his last weeks he asked me if I was going to go and see Ginger In Leeds. He never got to finish reading his copy of 'Songs & Words' and he will never hear the live 'PHUQ' album. I had to go... for my brother, it's what he would have wanted.

 

I didn't intend reviewing it, though; Uber Rock already had it covered three nights ago in Bristol, but the addition of The Main Grains as opening band tonight led to something special that made my already fragile emotional state hit overdrive and I felt pen had to hit paper for this one.

 

Fans of Ginger may have been surprised to see Danny McCormack's new band, The Main Grains, added to the bill for a couple of shows on this run given the turbulent history between the pair, but life is too short for grudges and it seems that Ginger Wildheart and his former bassist have finally buried the hatchet.

 

The Main Grains pretty much pick up where The Yo-Yo's left off and with a cracking debut EP full of catchy, no frills rock 'n' roll released earlier this year, they are definitely down as ones to watch.

 

It's rare to see a small venue this packed for a headline act these days, let alone the support band and The Main Grains go down a storm. Guitarists Ben and JJ seem to be in their element flanking the bass player of a band they hold in high regard. Danny, in trademark flatcap and Urban Voodoo Machine t-shirt seems humbled and surprised in equal measures by the response. He needn't be surprised, 'Unscrewed' is as anthemic as you can get, 'I'd Rather Be In California' will punk 'n' roll your bones about, and closer 'Keepin On Keepin On' has a chorus to die for and kicks live just like it should. The Main Grains delivered on their EP and live, they live up to expectations. Things are on the up for The Main Grains - bring on the debut album, lads.

 

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Ryan Hamilton has been on the Uber Rock radar for some time now and last year's excellent debut album, 'Hell Of A Day', was high on many of our writers' albums of the year lists for good reason. His brand of hook-laden power pop is sublime and opener 'Karaoke With No Crowd' is an instant crowd pleaser that sets the mood from the off, a great sound.

 

Ryan is one of those charismatic frontmen who easily gets the crowd on his side from the off. With his hair and beard now grown out, and a headband on, he looks like someone strolling out of the gym circa '83. He cracks one liners and gets some audience participation going on, to his left livewire bassist Rob Lane seems to be having the time of his life pulling '80s rock star poses without a care in the world, and the keyboard player performed in his socks - that's rock 'n' roll 2016, folks!

 

A lot of the crowd down the front are mouthing every word back which is nice and those that don't know the songs are singing the choruses back to Ryan by the end of the song, job done.

 

The vocals are spot on, 'Four Letter Verb' sounds fantastic and 'Medicine' is sublime, easily the best song of the night for me. New song 'We Never Should've Moved To LA' bodes well for album number 2 - as instant and infectious as anything else he has done I get an Elvis Costello/Tom Petty vibe from this track.

 

I do believe Ryan Hamilton made a few new friends tonight, a lovable Texan with a handful of great tunes up his sleeve, I hope it's not too long before he returns.

 

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The Ginger Wildheart Band has always had a revolving door of band members and this tour we get Denzel, Toshi, and Conny Bloom joining Ginger. God knows what the set list was going to be but with the addition of Conny on guitar you could safely bet there would be a Silver Ginger 5 song or two. As if by magic, a triple whammy of SG5 goodness opens the set. 'Take It All Why Don't'cha' opens proceedings and is swiftly followed by 'Anyway But Maybe', with a verse to die for, it kicks like the motherfucker it should and is the first of many goosebumps moments, I freaking love this song! 'Sonic Shake' is an adrenaline rush, I know The Wildhearts have been playing their albums in sequence on tours these past few years but who would love a Silver Ginger 5 tour in the near future?

 

Ginger dips nicely into the solo back catalogue with a couple of long lost gems from 'Valor Del Corazon'. 'Mother City' is a welcome surprise and 'This Is Only A Problem' incites the loudest sing-a-long of the night and plenty of goofing about between Ginger and Toshi. This band seem to be loving it up there and to me seem to be the most cohesive and enjoyable line-up to watch I can remember.

 

Ginger and Conny in matching white shirts and black waistcoats, Toshi, ever cool with his low slung Thunderbird, and the whirlwind of blond hair and flailing arms that is Denzel behind a rather striking yellow smiley bones kit.

 

Surprisingly, there is only a few recent solo tracks on this tour, the best of the bunch being personal favourite 'Do You' that sounds sublime to these ears tonight. Euphoria and goosebumps all over again.

 

With Ginger's ever growing solo back catalogue he doesn't really need to play any Wildhearts songs, but that was never really going to be an option. The opening riff of 'Mazel Tov Cocktail' gets a massive roar and the "woah-woah" refrain can surely be heard halfway across Yorkshire. The beaming smiles of the band say it all, one of the last truly great Wildhearts tracks sounds just perfect as we sing every word.

 

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'Top Of The World' and a massive sounding 'Ostracide' finish the main set, but during these final songs from my position I notice guitar tech Dunc bringing out and tuning up Danny McCormack's yellow fender bass. Could this really be happening, is Danny going to play a song or two?

 

The band return for an encore and, yes, Ginger introduces Danny McCormack. What follows is something many Wildhearts fans have been wanting for years. In fact, if my memory serves me right, the last time he played with Ginger was the ill-fated Scarborough Castle gig nearly 10 years ago. (I still get shivers remembering how cold that day was).

 

'My Baby Is A Headfuck' sounds immense as always, as a very emotional Danny, who is close to tears, takes Toshi's place stage left, leaving the bassist to help Denzel remember the time changes. The look and smiles as the two old friends make eye contact during playing says it all really. The two Wildhearts share a mic for the "Headfuck" refrain: god, I hope someone got a photo of this moment. This segues straight into a high energy 'Suckerpunch' and the band absolutely kill it.

 

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We end where I began with '29 x The Pain', as Ginger says "a song about friendship, make up with lost friends... here's to you" and it's the sing-a-long final encore it always has been and always will be, but tonight it just meant that little bit more than usual.

 

Tonight the stars aligned perfectly and we witnessed something special; yes, Danny joined the band again a few nights later in Newcastle and he may well do again in the future, but this was the moment when bygones became bygones and for the first time in too long, we saw two old friends reunited on stage.

 

The last time I saw the Ginger Wildheart band at Fibbers in York, it was a bit lacklustre to be honest, and that's not a word I tend to use regarding Ginger shows. Tonight was the opposite, tonight was special. Gigs this good don't come along very often. My brother would have loved this.

 

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