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ConcertsThe Wildhearts, Ferocious Dog: SWG3 Glasgow 4th December 2018

Posted on Thursday, December 06 2018 @ 23:38:36 CST by Steven Reid
Concert Reviews

25 year! 25 glorious years! Break-ups, make-ups, bust-ups and, well, truth be told, fuck ups, The Wildhearts have had it all. And more. What we always knew they possessed is songs. Lots of shit-kicking, neck straining, insightfully crafted and powder keg shafted songs. Tonight was the last of three celebrations of the band’s debut album, Earth Vs The Wildhearts, as it reaches its twenty fifth year and while there were a couple of cracking EPs that arrived before this 1993 behemoth, for many this is where it all started. And while there’s been a barrage of knock you sideways, in your face, socially conscious explosions ever since, the affection shown for Vs is that of the mould maker, the stance taker and world shaker. As debuts go, Earth Vs The Wildhearts was, and is, right up there with the very best. As ever, the foursome of Ginger, CJ, Danny and Ritch not only did their legacy proud tonight, they made it fresh, relevant and utterly, utterly indispensable. Along with a throng of the loud and prouds, Sea of Tranquility’s Steven Reid was there to celebrate.

Who was opening tonight’s show seemed to be a game of guess the band. Initially all girl hard rock earthshakers The Amorettes were announced alongside an unknown outfit called The Moodswingers (a name The Wildhearts have used for warm up shows before…) although as the date neared, the latter was pulled and Ferocious Dog came barking and biting into the equation. In the end The Amorettes were nowhere to be seen, Ferocious Dog straining at the leash to snarl out their Levellers meets Billy Bragg form of politically informed folk rock punk. With a little extra stage time given to them, the near 50 minute set flew by in a fit of anger, humour and jigs that whipped up a sizeable storm. Fronted by the likeable mohican sporting, acoustic guitar strumming Ken Bonsall, the band are driven on by the fiddle playing from Dan Booth and whistle/mandolin/banjo madness of John Leonard, who also plays a mean acoustic guitar. Although having Fruitbat (Les Carter from Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine) on electric guitar doesn’t exactly hurt either. Factor in a hard hitting, precision operation of a rhythm section - Alex Smith (drums) and John Alexander (bass) - and it’s no surprise that the likes of “Crime And Punishment”, “Class War”, “Criminal Justice” and “Hell Hounds” landed with a good time punch of hard hitting reality. Topics such as PTSD, The Miners’ Strike of the 80s and overthrowing the Tory government high on the agenda. In the end though, we were here to be entertained, and entertain us Ferocious Dog most certainly did. I’m not sure I’d listen to their music at home, but I might well pop back to Glasgow in April 2019 to see this band play their own headline set, because on stage they are a force to be reckoned with.

The Wildhearts were much more of a known quantity, an impressive two and a half decades having passed since their debut full length effort hit the shelves and rocked the UK music scene in a manner never quite witnessed before. Stone cold classic like the aggressive rush of “Suckerpunch”, the pop chant of “Love U ‘til I Don’t” the proud strut of “Greetings From Shitsville” and the stutter-punk of “Caffeine Bomb” sounding as vital and relevant today as they did the second they landed on CD. Through physical injury and the mental health challenges Ginger Wildheart inspires people by being honest enough to share, the band’s frontman hasn’t had his issues to seek in the lead up to these shows, but the singer, guitarist and songwriter is never more at home than he is cajoling the ‘hearts choir into raising a little hell - the roof also nearly lifted off the venue through all the rabid singing, chants and shouts that now traditionally punctuate every show this band play. Flanked by long-standing guitarist and vocal foil CJ and the triumphantly returning bassist Danny, the quartet - propelled quite magnificently from behind by the power-smash of drums that is Ritch Battersby - truly are a force of nature. Romping through Earth Vs from start to finish, lesser sung moments like “Shame On Me” or “Drinking About Life” shine just as brightly as fan favourites “TV Tan” and “My Baby Is A Headfuck”, confirming just how seminal this release was from start to finish, if ever there was any doubt.

Leaving at the album’s end to a heroes acclaim, the encore ran to eight songs, this foursome sticking to tracks that featured the core trio who were there from the start - Ginger, CJ and Danny - in a band that for a time had an almost revolving door policy on guitar and then bass. But with that meaning they can choose to dazzle and delight with the holler-alongs of “Red Light, Green Light”, “Vanilla Radio” and “Sick Of Drugs” it’s no surprise they are greeted as the old friends they are. A reaction possibly bested by the bedlam created as Danny took the mic for the fist of fury known as “Anthem”, before the dash for the line began with the never more apt “Geordie In Wonderland”, “29 X The Pain” and final glorious offering of “I Want To Go Where The People Go”. Yet again the band’s catch-phrase ‘never outdrunk, never outsung’ was met headlong by those in the band and those in the crowd, as The Wildhearts celebrated not just their debut album, but the stunning catalogue that has followed. Earth Vs The Wildhearts? Best 25 years of my life!

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