Monday, 23 January 2017

17/12/2016 Ginger's Birthday Bash

Always one of the gig highlights of the year, Ginger's 2016 Birthday Bash was no exception. Held once again in Kentish Town's Forum venue the place was pretty full. This year the format was a little different; Instead of Ginger playing various instruments with a wide variety of guests tonight's bill consists of regular bands - two of which Ginger happens to be in.
Gigs on a Saturday should be easy for even a badly organised shower-o-shite like me to get to on time, but that thing called 'real life', work, and the need to go shopping to fill my empty fridge so I can eat the following day manage to get in the way - not helped by the fact that the venue doors open at 6.00 with the show starting soon after so all the acts on the bill can be crammed in. Consequently, I have to travel straight to the gig with no chance of being able to go to a nearby pub for beers beforehand. However, thanks to 'in flight refueling' I am somewhat less than sober when I arrive at the venue. Unfortunately, by this stage I have already missed the first two acts on the bill. I wasn't particularly bothered about opening band Elvana - apparently an Elvis/Nirvana tribute band. I kid you not! Actually, they might have been quite interesting as I really enjoyed seeing Ramones/Abba faux tribute band G.A.B.B.A a few years ago. I was more concerned about missing the Main Grains, but as I'd seen them a couple of times in 2016 anyway not seeing them wasn't the end of the world. I did find out later that Main Grains frontman Danny McCormack's former Yo-Yo's bandmate Tom Spencer joined the band on guitar for the final song - the Yo-Yo's 'Keepin' On Keepin' On'. I'd have liked to have seen that.

I am in the venue when The Dowling Poole are on stage, but unfortunately didn't really catch any of their very poppy tuneage due to constantly bumping into people I know and in most cases rarely see. This outfit are now a full band after starting off as a duo featuring ex-The Grip, Honeycrack, and one time Wildhearts keyboard player Willie Dowling and Cardiacs and Wildhearts bass player Jon 'Random' Poole. - and also Givvi Flynn on backing vocals.

The first band I actually did manage to see was Hey! Hello!.
This is the new Mk 2 lineup of the band as seen earlier in the year. Cat Southall is doing a fine job on vocals - allowing Ginger to take a step back from frontman duties (although he has never fronted this band) and concentrate on just being a guitar player and songwriter.
The rest of the band is unchanged and still features ex-Anti-Product and Ga Gas man Toshi on bass (above) and ex-Towers Of London and The Howling man the Rev (below) on guitar.
Hey! Hello! are great fun as a live act with loads of cracking tunes and plenty of action on stage.
The band have recently released their second album 'Hey! Hello! Too' which features a variety of lead singers - including Cat who is currently fronting the band and looking like she's loving every minute of it!
Hey! Hello!'s second album is a fine follow up to their critically acclaimed first one and features another bunch of well crafted pop/punk tunes. I look forward to seeing more of this band in 2017...

I had been looking forward to checking out Jim Jones & The Righteous Mind as I thought the frontman's previous act the Jim Jones Revue were a terrific old school dirty rock 'n' roll band. However, I manage to miss them for much the same reasons as The Dowling Poole....

And now for something completely different. Dirtbox Disco are back at this event after going down well with many of those in the crowd last year. I manage to catch some of their set. It's an entertaining mix of punk. metal, and 1970's glam rock - their brand of lunacy reminds me of The Damned in particular. I especially like their catchy anthem 'Lets Get Fucking Wasted'!

Last but definitely not least is the main act of the night - the 'Birthday Boy' returns to the stage to lead The Wildhearts through a crowdpleasing 'Greatest hits' style set also featuring some lesser known songs.
One thing that has greatly gladdened the hearts of most present is the very welcome return of original Wildhearts bassist Danny McCormack who joins the band for the encore songs. Few would have thought this was ever likely to happen as there has been a certain amount of bad blood between Danny and Ginger for various reasons since he left the band. Even Danny's new band the Main Grains being on the bill was unexpected, but obviously a lot of water has passed under the bridge and it's great to see these two on friendly terms again. Many didn't expect Danny to be able to make this gig (as well as his own band's recent tour) as a few months ago he had to have one leg amputated below the knee due to some ongoing health issues he's been suffering with over the last year or so. It's still too early for him to be fitted with an artificial leg, so he has to play the show sitting down - as he did with the Main Grains earlier in the evening. Danny seems to be in good spirits in spite of all this, and the fans are very glad to see him making this guest appearance with his old band.

Ginger himself appears to be in good form too, but it turns out later all is not so well....
As usual for a Wildhearts gig the atmosphere is terrific - a Wildhearts crowd can never be outsung! I meet old friends who have come from as far as Portugal, and even Australia just for this show - so everyone is determined to have a good time!
This band have a very rich back catalogue to pick from, and obviously they don't have enough time on stage at this show to dig too deep into the more obscure and rarely (if ever) heard rarities and B-sides - therefore it is of necessity a bit of a Greatest Hits type setlist - but no one is complaining!
We get many of the old favourites: 'Sick Of Drugs', 'Everlone', 'Weekend', 'Love You Til I don't', 'Nothing Ever Changes...' and some lesser known songs from later tears like 'The Revolution Will Be Televised' and 'Mazel Tov Cocktail' . However, as mentioned earlier - all is not well. Or more precisely, Ginger is not well. At one point he turns his back to the crowd - and I see him eject a stream of projectile vomit towards the back of the stage. Actually, there turns out to be quite a lot of puke over rest of the stage as well, and faithful but long-suffering roadie Dunc has the unenviable task of trying to mop it all up with towels - he's certainly earning his money tonight. But he always does.
However, trooper that he is Ginger decides the show must go on - and it does. All too soon it's encore time and we get hammered by the double-whammy of 'Suckerpunch' and 'My Baby Is A Headfuck' (always a popular for a crowd sing-a-long!) followed by Frank Turner appearing of stage to take lead vocals on 'I Wanna Go Where The People Go' - probably much to the ailing Ginger's relief! In spite of the Birthday Boy by this point feeling very under the weather it's a cracking climax to the night!
As ever, Ginger's Birthday Bash has been a terrific night! Due to there being seven bands on the bill and there being a lot to fit in the venue extended it's curfew from it's usual 11.00 to midnight. Consequently I am grateful to the new Night Tube service which I use for the first time - otherwise I might have struggled to get home without resorting to the dreaded Night Bus! I am relieved not to have to do that as I have been up and on the go since 5.20 in the morning...

Unfortunately, Ginger isn't feeling much better after the show and himself and Danny end up going to hospital together later - victims of the dreaded winter vomiting bug. This also causes the following night's end of Wildhearts tour show in Nottingham to be pulled at the last minute as Ginger isn't feeling up to it and doesn't want to disappoint the fans with a sub-standard show.

My rubbish pictures from this show are a mixture of phone and digicam efforts - if you want to see a load of really good professional quality photos from this gig then click on this link to go to the wonderful Trudi Knight's gig photography website.

PS: The Wildhearts postponed  end of tour show has since taken place in Nottingham, and there is a new Wildhearts album on the cards for 2017....

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