Review and pics by Russ Tierney
Up first tonight are Baby Godzilla who don’t divide opinion so much as they do the crowd; and in more ways than one. There’s little grey area here, I think they are a band you either love or hate, and they’re a strange choice for Wildhearts fans! They do have the bonus of calling the Geordie song smith and Wildies frontman a huge fan, and that‘s in no small part as to why they’re opening tonight no doubt. Baby Godzilla are just that, a mass of heavy noises and energy that leave a huge impression, and they literally divide the audience by bringing their show down off the stage and creating their own pockets of space in which to go, well, mental. Live you’d be hard pushed to find something other than the ‘stage’ show to latch on to, but ‘Powerboat Disaster’ stands tall in their set, and their interesting rhythms often jump out at you when you least expect it… as do their members. Proceed with caution if you are weak hearted, but do check them out because you wont forget it in a hurry!
Now the Eureka Machines do divide opinion… Are they too polished? Are they too poppy? It was suggested they were a bit Green Day, but personally I loved them! I really struggle to get in to their recordings on the most part and toyed with the idea of ‘pledging’ for their new album, I just wished they could bottle their live shows as they should (would?) be huge. While their songs hold their own on the Wulfrun stage, they too are a very visual band and have no doubt put thought in to their interaction amongst them selves. Frontman Christ Catalyst is more than comfortable with crowd banter, and a good part of the audience are only too willing to sing along when prompted. For me they sit on the poppier side of the Wildhearts ‘Must Be Destroyed’ era, very easy to listen to but some of the clever little changes and accents would make Billy Joe feel like a member of Rush if they were present in Green Day. The sound was immense, and even with the visuals removed by a huge speaker stack being in my face, I couldn’t help but wonder why more people haven’t latched on to them and what they’d have to do to recreate this on record. I think they’ve gained some new fans in here tonight.
The Wildhearts have little choice but to be on form. They’re following two bands with huge personalities, are playing their debut album in it’s entirety for this anniversary show, and have the whole returning from hiatus monster on their back. Now I’m not easily excited, but being a huge fan I was expecting big big things, and that all too often leads to disappointments as I tend to critique bands I like that bit more harshly rather than being subjective. Wellllll?? From the first note of ‘Greetings From Shitsville’, to the last in ‘I wanna go where the people go’, they basically destroyed. It’s no secret that Ginger has a soft spot for Wolverhampton audiences, and you can see why as tonight’s sold out one is buzzing from front to back while singing every lyric back to the band. The whole of ‘Earth vs’ is note for note perfect, drummer Ritch is a machine, CJ seems like he never left Gingers side, and Random Jon Poole is the perfect four stringer for the ever changing slot… and all this on about 3 days of rehearsals at a secret location in Birmingham I believe?
After the last notes of Loveshit ring out, the band briefly leave the stage to a round of ‘Don’t worry about me’ sung by the audience, which has become somewhat of a tradition in beckoning them back to the stage. Soon a boxing style announcer informs us that the second set will consist of songs going head to head (held up on huge laminated paper by the Legendary Dunc and Hot Steve) , and the loudest cheer will win. Dunc wins the first round resulting in ‘Naivety Play’ before KO-ing Hot Steve a second time with ‘Nothing ever changes but the shoes’.
‘Turning American’ is a surprise choice for the head to head, but wins through all the same, right before Ginger ensures there’s only one winner in ‘Vanilla Radio’ by suggesting his 12 year old son Jake Wildheart would be guesting on it if it did. Fan favourite ‘Geordie in Wonderland’ was only ever going to win the next battle, and we have some light hearted relief as the crowd choose for Ritch Battersby to step out from behind the kit to sing the next winner, “the duck song”. ‘Caffine Bomb’, ‘Got it on Tuesday’, ’29x the pain’ are the next 3 before the hardest decision of them all, ‘I wanna go where the people go’ vs. ‘Sick of drugs’. If you’ve been paying attention you’ll know the winner of that one already, and as I glance at the time and I realise that there will be no encore, this leads to the first and only disappointment about the whole of tonight’s proceedings.
Sure I’d have loved to have heard songs from the likes of the self titled ‘White album’, but then there’s few Wildhearts fans in the room who wouldn’t demand the whole back catalog if given half a chance, and most leave having felt they’d seen the Wildhearts not back to their best, but surpassing it. Despite “promoters being shit scared of the Wildhearts”, and while Ginger has found a new love in ‘pledge music’, there’s more than a subtle hint that the Wildhearts will be back and that this is no one off tour.
Ladies and Gentleman, Earth vs. the Wildhearts, and the Wildhearts won.