Having somehow spent the last 30 years crossing paths with THE WILDHEARTS I finally found myself at last, in the same venue about to watch the classic line up in all their glory but before their arrival I had the added bonus of two cracking bands to get the momentum up and running. CKY and the BACKYARD BABIES were those chosen acts and everyone gathered knew this was going to be a very special evening.
CKY rolled into town with just 2 band members ? guitarist / vocalist Chad I Ginsburg and Jess Margera on drums which were placed towards the front of the stage. To be fair I know very little about CKY but what a glorious noise they made, with their punky almost stoner rock leanings and you would not think it possible that they can replicate such a hard hitting sound.
Opener “HI FI” sets the ball rolling and from my vantage point I could clearly see that the group were enjoying the interaction from the crowd. Another track that stood out was “FRENETIC” with the riff just cutting the air like a hot knife through butter. On the performance tonight CKY deserve to be rewarded with many more new fans (me included).
With the venue filling up to bursting point downstairs it was obvious BACKYARD BABIES have many, many fans in London. With the familiar opening intro of “FRIGGIN IN THE RIGGIN” which always brings a big smile to my face. It’s head first into “GOOD MORNING MIDNIGHT” with Dregen swirling like a spinning top with his low slung guitar following close behind, Nicke Borg as ever is the complete package when it comes to front men working up the crowd and peeling off the riffs while putting in a high energy vocal display.
White lights add to the effect while the group rip through “NOMADIC” and “HIGHLIGHTS” before everyone grabs a breather and out comes the acoustic guitar for a jaw dropping version of “PAINKILLER” followed closely by “ROADS” which display another side to the band and especially Nicke Borgs powerful vocals. Much like tonight’s headliners BACKYARD BABIES seem to throw every guitar based genre into their music from punk, to hyped up rocker billy with crushing rock riffs and lots of snippets of Chuck Berry making every song sound different from the previous song.
Dregen announces that he wants to sing for us, so we get a blast through “STAR WAR” whilst the crowd feel duly obliged to join in with some singing of their own. Although on tonight’s performance everything was just spontaneous with Dregen climbing onto his amps and everything just 100mph the group did make great use of the green lights at the front of the stage and dry ice bellowing out from under their step up platforms to which the group knew where to stand and at what moment, making the effect worthwhile.
On tonight’s performance this band could easily have been the headliners and no one would have gone home disappointed these lads from Sweden just get better and better.
So It’s down to one of the most loved British rock bands of the last 30 years to take the stage, and what a turn out and reception they receive from the packed masses. Straight into “EVERLONE” and the place is jumping with Ritch Battersby solid drumming keeping the other 3 band members in check while the place erupts.
From my vantage point on the front row of the balcony I was directly above where the instant mass of swirling bodies were forming the first of many mosh pits but all done with care and attention to those around them. “DIAGNOSES” with its AC/DC style riff, and lyrics relating to the much needed attention to mental illness is both poignant and a monster of a track with CJ looking fancy in his hat all over the stage not keeping still for a minute exchanging riffs with Ginger before its straight into mass sing along of “VANILLA RADIO” and first real pop / rock moment of the evening.
Ginger obviously aware of the mental crowd in front of him says something that I have never heard in my entire life and never expected to. So I quote “ Brexit is done so all laws are out the window so everyone over the barrier and on stage if you want !!” before it’s a manic 3 minutes of “CAFFEINE BOMB” with neither a note or a vocal mistake to be heard, how that track can be played is beyond me and with bodies flying into the photo pit then running round for another go it was just good fun to witness.
The great thing was when the people were helped by security over the barrier not one person tried to get on stage, they just respected that was where the group were working hard. Through the set we get a sprinkling of new material like “LET EM GO” “DISLOCATED” “MY KIND OF MOVIE” and the previous mentioned “DIAGNOSES” which all go down like long lost classics. Talking of classic how can you possibly pick a set list from someone as prolific as Ginger Wildheart? Not everyone will be happy, but with appearances of “TV TAN” and “SICK OF DRUGS” they couldn’t go wrong.
Special mention to Danny McCormack who plays a tight set with his low-slung bass and it’s safe to say that its lovely to see one of the nicest men in music back on stage where he is suppose to be. As for Ginger well he likes to throw in a surprise or two and he made my evening by including “THE REVOLUTION WILL BE TELEVISED” from the self-titled 2007 white album.
With its snare drum intro and doubled up guitars and a chorus I don’t think the group have ever bettered it pushed the evening up another notch or two, Of Course no Wildheart’s show would be complete without “I WANNA GO WHERE THE PEOPLE GO” with the noise being louder off stage than on.
So, with a fond farewell the group quickly return for a two-song encore of “MY BABY IS A HEADFUCK” and a stomping “LOVE YOU TIL I DON’T” with that infamous quick blast of reggae mid-section. Having witnessed THE WILDHEARTS live I felt exhausted! It was loud, it was sweaty, it was carnage and it was brilliantly executed from one of the most talented artists these shores have produced for many a year.
In fact with the added bonus of CKY and BACKYARD BABIES this was a killer evening’s entertainment, although only one month into the year I really can’t see how in the remaining 11 months this show is going to topped. Simply amazing!
Review by Steve Bruty
Photography by Darren Smith