|Ginger's Birthday Bash - London, Kentish Town Forum - 17th December 2016|
|Written by Ben Hughes|
|Saturday, 07 January 2017 04:00|
Thirty quid for a gig ticket, £90 for a train down to London, £15 on Tubes, £18 for two double JD and cokes... seeing Ginger puke onstage mid song tonight ...priceless! Seriously though, Ginger is not well tonight, it seems there is a virus doing the rounds and the poor bugger has it bad. But he soldiered on like the pro he is: in fact most people probably didn't even realise he was chucking his guts up for half of 'Nothing Ever Changes...' tonight. I didn't at the time, I was way too busy with my arms around a complete stranger singing along to every word of a glorious set that sound-tracked my youth.
Yep, the annual Ginger Birthday Bash has become a legendary event and tonight is no different. Not only is there a full Wildhearts show to look forward to but the added attraction of original bass player Danny McCormack joining the band for the encores. Of course, nothing in Wildhearts land goes to plan and with the news of Danny recently having his lower leg removed and Ginger's recent mental health issues, it was looking like fate was lending a hand in destroying all our hopes and dreams to end on a high, what has been a shit year for most people.
But end on a high it surely does. No less than seven bands on the bill tonight and everyone is pure quality from start to finish. In fact, it just seems to get better and better with each band to be honest.
Walking in to openers Elvana in full flow is more than a little bit trippy. They are an Elvis fronted Nirvana tribute band: yeah, I hear you… Dread Zeppelin did that sort of thing 20 years ago with style and charisma, but hearing some dude belt out 'Rape Me' and 'Heart Shaped Box' in an Elvis jump suit is strangely satisfying I must admit. Ending with their Nirvana-esque take on 'Suspicious Minds', I am left thinking maybe this is one tribute act worth checking out again when they visit Fibbers in York next year.
The Main Grains are up next. With the announcement of Danny losing his leg a few months back, I'm sure no one expected the band to honour their gig commitments this year, but sure enough The Main Grains feel the show must go on and fair play to them. While seeing the frontman perched on a stool centre stage is not the perfect way to witness The Main Grains high energy rock 'n' roll, it's better than no Main Grains and it does not detract from the set at all.
The sound ain't too great to be honest, the guitars of JJ and Ben barely audible, but the songs shine through. From opener 'Unscrewed' onto the glorious anthem that is 'I'd Rather Be In California' and the following 'Teenage Kicks' sung by drummer Ginge, it's all fantastic sounding stuff and I look forward to hearing more material from them next year. Highlight of their set though is the mini Yo-Yos reunion as Tom Spencer straps on a guitar and joins the boys for a run through of 'Keepin' On Keepin' On' to finish things off, very sweet indeed!
The Dowling Poole turned out one of the best albums of the year in 'One Hyde Park' and their quirky power pop ditties go down a storm tonight. To be honest I wasn't expecting so much, I saw them a couple of years back and it was all keyboards and laptop based and felt a bit flat to be honest. Now they have a full live band to boost the trio of Willie Dowling, Jon Poole and Givvi Flynn they sound shit hot. But lets face it, when you have songs as instant and catchy as 'Fight Fight Fight' and the amazing 'When She Knows, She Knows' then you cannot fail to impress. My mate said they sound like Honeycrack and yeah they do, along with Bowie, Squeeze, Jellyfish and a good dose of Brit Pop, to pull that sort of sound off is no mean feat. In an ideal world they should be destined for greatness and the top of the pop charts.
Three bands in and its only just gone 7.30pm! Time for Hey! Hello! to do the business. Cat Southall seems to be settling in nicely as the live vocalist for the troubled Hey! Hello! even if she does look like she's been dressed by Bonnie Tyler's stylist. How long it will last is anyone's guess but lets enjoy it while it lasts shall we.
They sound great and they look great, the band are energetic with Cat making good use of the stage and the ever animated and uber cool duo of Toshi and The Rev do their best to pull all the cool rock star moves to keep the photographers snapping. With such a strong new album to promote, I'm left scratching my head a bit tonight though, as the set seems to concentrate more on the first album. So, while opener 'Swimwear' and 'Lock For Rock' sound great, it's the likes of 'This Ain't Love', 'Kids' and 'Don't Stop Loving The Music' that really shine through. Hey! Hello! deserve more success, they just need a bit of luck on their side, but they always seem to be swimming against the tide.
Jim Jones & The Righteous Mind fucking kill it tonight. If you loved Jim Jones Revue then fear not as it's business as usual for Jim Jones and his gang. 50's inspired garage rock, leathers, greasy hair and big guitars pointed to the sky. I know none of the songs they play but am transfixed for the whole set.
Jim Jones commands the audience like the pro he is and belts out energy fuelled track by track, as Gavin Jay slams his bass about to his side. They very nearly stole the show tonight, I need to get their EPs in my ears right now. Rock 'n' roll played hard and fast as it should be.
It's no secret that Dirt Box Disco are a bit good live, it's been documented many times in the pages of Uber Rock. It's my first Dirt Box Disco experience and I'm not disappointed. It’s ridiculous how good they are, I don't know any of their stuff but yet here I am singing along to the likes of 'The Other Side Of The Street' and 'My Life Is Shit' like they are old friends. Maybe it’s the fact that they are rehashing melodies and vibes from the late 80's that we loved. I sure hear the likes of Last Of The Teenage Idols and Soho Roses in their sound whether they like it or not. Glunk as fuck!
One things for sure, Spunk Volcano and the rest of the band made many new friends tonight and I know I'm late to the party but there's a bunch of albums added to my Christmas list after this set. Awesome stuff.
I've never seen The Wildhearts do a bad gig, sure some have been better than others but the energy and euphoria from a live Wildhearts show is like no other and I will keep coming back time and time again. As I heard someone say the other day it has become almost a religious experience over the years, a pilgrimage even. Most gigs you can find me near the front but tonight we chose to hang back near the bar, drink and watch from a distance for a change.
From the opening riff of 'Sick Of Drugs' to the closing 'I Wanna Go Where The People Go' we sing every word like our hearts depend on it. To be honest the set list could completely change each night for a week and they would still have a greatest hits set such is the quality of The Wildhearts material. Highlights? Take your pick, for me 'Everlone', Mazel Tov Cocktail' and 'The Revolution Will Be Televised' ask me tomorrow it could be 'Weekend (5 Long Days)' and awesome set closer 'Love You Til I Don't'.
Danny joins the band for a killer one-two of 'Suckerpunch' and 'My Baby Is a Headfuck' and while it's not as emotional as it was seeing Ginger and Danny playing together up close and personal for the first time at The Brudenell in Leeds earlier this year, it's still nice to see him up there where he should be, albeit perched on a chair.
But there's more… Frank Turner joins the band for the final encore to sing lead vocals on 'I Wanna Go Where The People Go' and give Ginger a break from singing to end a classic set on the ultimate high.
Oblivious to Ginger's struggles from where we were, it appears it only got worse and the last date of the tour in Manchester was pulled due to ill health. But as always, The Wildhearts will be back to destroy again soon. I hear rumours of a new album coming in 2017… now that's something to look forward to already.
Another quality Birthday Bash. Seven bands that absolutely killed it and new music to go and discover. I couldn't have asked for a better line up. Long live The Wildhearts!
PHOTO CREDIT: All photographs © Trudi Knight Photography/www.bandsonstage.co.uk