Wearing identical attire, this 4 piece band provided a half-filled venue with a menu of upbeat punk rock and frivolous guitar riffs from the start. Although there wasn’t enough room on stage to swing a cat, Gizz made several precarious attempts to land a few jumps still playing his guitar with success – a true rocker right there.
Playing some of their classic tracks, their skater punk sound fitted well into the night. The band knocked out track after track as the gaps in the audience started to fill up. Some obvious fans appeared near the front of the stage and sang along and a few heads had started to nod. Gizz was consistent in creating a bit of banter and chat with the audience in between tracks which went down well after a short but voluptuous set and the venue was well and truly warmed up.
In true rock n’ roll style, Gizz finished the last song in the set by dishing out a few plectrums to the audience and joked about how it would be great if they’d buy some of the bands’ t-shirts so they could get some diesel for their van to get to their next gig. The final song was the most upbeat of the set and as a starter, Janus Stark hit the spot.
The stage was cleared and a few more instruments were sound checked by the backstage crew. The stage was hazily lit in blue whilst the monotonous rumble of a didgeridoo leaked out of the PA followed by a narrative. The venue now seemed to be at full capacity as the band walked on to the stage. Ferocious Dog had landed. These Celtic-punk lads had fans cheering instantly as they leaped straight into their first banging track ‘Cry of the Celt’ and it wasn’t long until the floor began to shake as the crowd stamped to their melodic vibe.
With three guitarists, a bass player, drummer, and violinist, Ferocious Dog served up a rack of tasty toe-tapping tunes with hearty drum beats that just keep you moving. Vocalist and guitarist Ken Bonsall was all smiles throughout their set and frequently gleamed at the front row with his pearly whites and a twinkle in his eye. A total charmer for those female fans.It was getting a tad warm and even though most of the band were wearing hats, no one even seemed to be breaking into a sweat despite the speed of the tempo. Their folk-rock sound was whimsical yet traditional which got the audience pounding up and down with gusto. Bonsall sang with such enthusiastic passion and the band as a whole performed effortlessly – true masters at work that manifested on stage. These guys were having a bloody good time and so was the audience which quickly became a sea of bobbing heads to every hammering drum beat.
The crowd became a bit sparse whilst people headed to the bar to fill up their glasses and wait patiently as the amps are swapped over
The audience becomes sparse whilst people headed to the bar to top up their beverages. The backstage crew was back up on stage and the guitar tech had a whole load of guitars to soundcheck. Half an hour passed and the statement mic was put center stage with Ginger’s signatory spotted scarf attached ready to blow with the air pummelled from Ritch Battersby’s drums.
Whatever the band was in tip-top shape regardless. The guitars didn’t make them sound good. They made the guitars sound good. Ginger spoke to the audience frequently thanking them for the support over the years. 30 years together as a band, they’d had good and bad times. But tonight they looked as thick as thieves on stage playing classics such as ‘Caffeine Bomb’ from their debut album ‘Earth vs The Wildhearts’ right through to tracks from their penultimate album ‘Renaissance Men’. No matter what track they played, they’re always a hit that gets everyone frantically jumping about – not that their fans needed an excuse to go wild. In true Wildhearts style, each song was played with sheer brute force. Thrashing melodic riffs but still keeping their sound fresh, a clump of fans at the front wasted no time in getting stuck into a newly formed mosh pit. No one seemed to give a damn that it was midweek – they were partying hard.
With a hefty set to cover, The Wildhearts just kept giving. The pit carried on swaying side to side with the odd hand in the air and Ginger grabbed the odd swig of drink in between tracks. But the momentum carried on throughout as he jeered with the crowd by asking them to repeat after him ‘REO Speedwagon’, before calling them all mental. Ginger says, the fans do. There’s dedication for you. Class. There were plenty of phones recording the event so there’s no doubt that many social media channels will be saturated in different parts of the night.
After a quick guitar change for Ginger, it was back to the set with copious stout guitar riffs with a bit of lead thrown in courtesy of CJ. Ritch was as focussed as always on the drums, gritting his teeth as he smacked the shit outta those skins.
Near the end of the set, Ginger dedicated a track to those who were single and for those in a steady relationship, he wished them good luck. Of course, the track was taken from their Renaissance Men album appropriately titled ‘The Fine Art of Deception’ . A few technical issues became apparent but were soon sorted out by the tech and Ginger carried on where he left off.
Finishing the set was the track ‘Action Panzer’ – an ecstatic mix of growling vocals, punk rock riffs and smashing drums and a prime tune to end on. As the band left the stage ‘Don’t Worry About Me’ was played over the PA – a track is taken from their 2004 live album ‘The Wildhearts Strike Back’. The lyrics that seemed rather poignant at that precise moment with the tour being for the release of their ‘Diagnosis’ album – a true reflection on the state of the health service and the lack of support for those suffering from anxiety and depression. There’s no doubt that the subject is close to home for many fans in the venue.
As everyone cheered and waited for the band’s encore, they were back on stage after a bit of a breather. They had been flat out and although the time has overrun, Ginger asked for requests from the audience. Suggestions were shouted and hands were raised in the hope of being chosen. ‘Beautiful Thing You’ it was and went down a storm with the audience to finalize the night.