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ConcertsThe Wildhearts, Massive Wagons, Towers Of London; Edinburgh 4th May 2019

Posted on Monday, May 06 2019 @ 23:21:53 CDT by Steven Reid
Concert Reviews

A day after their critically acclaimed ‘Renaissance Men’ album began landing in inboxes and on door mats ready to be slammed eagerly onto playlists and into hi-fi’s, The Wildhearts descended on the Liquid Room in Edinburgh on the crest of an ever building wave. The band’s fans have long been known as a bunch of diehard zealots, but it’s a long time since I attended one of their shows where the anticipation in the air was as charged as it was tonight, such was the excitement of hearing new songs live for the first time in just over a decade. With two battle hardened bands in the shape of Towers Of London and Massive Wagons also on the bill, things started brilliantly, and only got better and better and better. Sea of Tranquility’s Steven Reid was where the people wanted to go…

Towers Of London were a band that coulda, shoulda, woulda, but then didn’t really. Brushes with reality TV did more harm than good and the infamous appearance by the band’s singer, Donny Tourette, on UK music comedy/quiz show Never Mind The Buzzcocks, pretty much suppered any momentum that tours and shows with the likes of Guns N’ Roses, The Pogues and New York Dolls had steadily built. With drummer Snell and guitarist Rev leaving in 2007, the band eventually folded in 2009, five years after their eventful journey first began. A 2015 revival, however, has now seen things come full circle, with the original five coming back together earlier this year. What with Rev also being a member of Ginger Wildheart’s power-pop side project, Hey! Hello!, the link is clear to see and musically, more than a few nods are also given in The Wildhearts direction. However, there’s a stronger punk ethos at the core of this outfit and it has to be said that with the Ramones cool of bassist Tommy Brunette and Steve Jones stance of rhythm guitarist Dirk Tourette powering things along impressively, the band’s best known moments like “Fuck It Up” and “I’m A Rat” still land with an authentic sneer. With some long term fans clearly in attendance, not even a 6.15pm start could dampen the enthusiasm on and off stage and while Towers Of London’s near miss moment might have come and gone a long time ago, tonight they proved to still be a reasonably potent beast.

Massive Wagons are also a band proud to be part of The Wildhearts extended family, having trekked the UK with Ginger as one of his many ‘sponsored’ opening acts. However, the growth and maturity now being shown by a band that look every inch stage veterans has become quite incredible. What doesn’t hurt, however, is the immediately likeable Baz Mills, a man in possession of all the best vocal qualities of Vince Neil and Noddy Holder - a mighty amalgam in anyone’s book and one he doesn’t waste. The stunning and rather larger than its name suggests “Dirty Little Secret” is an explosion of riffed up energy where guitarists Adam Thistlethwaite and Stevie Holl make every effort to steamroll anything in their path. In fairness the smiles on the band’s faces could do that alone but when you’ve got a frontman careening around the stage at breakneck speed while wearing a bowler hat, and songs as damn convincing as “In This Together” and “Hate Me”, the attack is multifaceted. The masterstroke that is “The Ballad Of Vernon Hayes” - the story of a 100+ year old gentlemen who loves to skydive and simply refuses to be told what to do - is used as a clarion call to live the life you want to and not the one others think you should, whereas “Back To The Stack” is an affectionate, effective tribute to Status Quo’s much missed guitarist and singer Rick Parfitt. The track being a clear nod to where Massive Wagon’s inspiration arrives from, an unabashed love of 70s grit and 80s melodies allowing the likes of “Ratio” and “China Plates” to hit you right in the chest, while lasting long in the mind. The big dumb and full of fun “Fee Fi Fo Fum” has long been this band’s closing outburst and the huge ovation afforded at its conclusion quickly illustrates why. Massive Wagons should be, well, you guessed it, massive. More shows like this and hopefully it’s only a matter of time before the M-Wagon’s time on the road really pays off.

Through their many guises The Wildhearts have remained a force of nature but, for many, seeing the four current members of the band, Ginger, CJ, Ritch and Danny not just reunited, but rejuvenated by a stunning new album, is something that only dreams are made of. “Dislocated” detonates the show into life and confirms that this isn’t a fanciful dream, The Wildhearts are back with new music that still rocks your world and live, knocks you for six. The roar at its conclusion genuinely seemed to take the band aback, even if they do seamlessly segue into old classic “Everlone” in a move designed to ensure any lack of crowd excitement at the newbie could be glossed over. It’s a slick set building move but one proved completely unnecessary, with the sweaty throng assembled desperate to show their approval of a decade long wait for new music coming to an end.

Credit to the crew, band and venue, the sound was spot on from the off, resulting in the likes of “Vanilla Radio”, “Suckerpunch” and “The Revolution Will Be Televised” to crack and spit, before the huge sing along of “Top Of The World” threatened to take the roof off a venue that lies deep underground. The second newbie arrived in the shape of “Let ‘Em Go”, this song a call to know when it’s time to admit enough’s enough, but with Ginger Wildheart’s innate ability to dress these subjects up in the hookiest of hooks and bristlingest of riffs, hearing the chant of ‘let ‘em go, let ‘em go, let the shit filled rivers flow’ shouted right back at the band was a special moment indeed.

Revisiting and still asking for reappraisal for the Endless Nameless album, “Urge” confirmed that while it may be a misunderstood moment, it sure as hell contains some of this band’s most underrated material. “Caffeine Bomb”, “Stormy In The North, Karma In The South” and “Love U ’til I Don’t” are all much more readily recognisable, but as the last song finished Ginger announced that he and his band mates were heading off stage for a minute or two, before returning with something we’d think we wouldn’t like, but would really…

….could this be Wildhearts au natural? An encore of Kajagoogoo covers? Or an admission that Danny was actually a hologram? No, it was that The Wildhearts would be miming! Don’t worry, CJ hadn’t decided to go all Paul Stanley on us, instead the seven song encore began with their forthcoming single “Renaissance Men” being piped through the PA so the band - and audience - could be filmed for the accompanying video. For the next few minutes, musicians and fans mugged along for the camera, before Ginger shouted, ‘let’s play some more live music!’ and “Someone The Won’t Let Me Go”, “You Took The Sunshine From New York” and “Mazel Tov Cocktail” rained down on us all like a refreshing downpour of melodic, caustic goodness!

Racing for the line, “My Baby Is A Headfuck” segued into “29 x The Pain” and with that it was over. But no, tonight the closing track was to be “I Wanna Go Where The People Go” and anyone in the know was right here, right now. I’ve seen The Wildhearts a lot over the years and, while on a personal note a few more new songs wouldn’t have gone amiss, this performance was right up there with the best of them. All hail the Renaissance Men!

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