RTM can still vividly remember the first time it came across the Wildhearts. We were standing in the old Exposure rock club in Birmingham, waiting for a long forgotten Canadian band, Sven Gali, to play an acoustic set. when over the tannoy came a song that was quite unlike anything we had ever heard sounding like Metallica with melodies, it was brilliant. We asked the DJ what it was, the answer that came back began a lifelong love affair: “it’s called “My Baby Is A Headfuck,” he said. “By a group called the Wildhearts. “
Fast forward twenty years and the group is now back together for the umpteenth time, with a short tour to play their debut album “Earth vs The Wildhearts” from beginning to end. A quite stunning piece of music it is now twenty years old and ranks as one of RTM’s all-time favourite albums The same is true for many people it seems, given that the Wulfrun is jam packed full for this jaunt.
Which gives opening act Eureka Machines a big chance to impress. The brainchild of Ginger’s sidekick in his solo endeavours, Chris Catalyst. The Leeds band have quirky, perky songs that perhaps are closest in sound to Honeycrack, or actually anything Willie Dowling does, but there is a real dark heart to their songs. New album “Remain In Hope” is fine affair, while “Champion The Underdog” the title track of the previous record is perhaps the only song ever to namecheck celebrity steeplejack Fred Dibnah. This is pop rock the way it should be done. Occasionally when they really cut loose, there is a Wildhearts type feel to their songs, with one or two reminding us of what “Endless Nameless” would have sounded like if not for all the feedback.
Then, at 9.15 precisely, four men wander out onto the stage. They smaile, wave, and kick off the riff to “Greetings from Shitsville.” And the tone is set for the next 1 hour and forty minutes. They run through “Earth vs” (“original version not the re-release” laughs main man Ginger – which means “Caffeine Bomb” is not played.) and just in case you had forgotten why this is up there with any record ever made, you surely would have remembered by the time “TV Tan,” “Everlone,” “Shame on Me” and “Loveshit” follow.
And that’s just side one. There is still time for “Miles Away Girl” the aforementioned “…Headfuck” “Suckerpunch” “News of the World,” “Drinking About Life” and “Love You Till I Don’t”.
If they had chosen to say goodnight after that then no one would have complained. However, after a five minute break they are back, with what the term the “audience participation part of the evening.” What this means is two roadies – Hot Steve and Dunc – stand on either side of the stage with song titles written on big cards. The audience then shouts for the one they want to hear and the band plays it. Amongst the choices are “Nothing Ever Changes But The Shoes” “Caffeine Bomb” and “Vanilla Radio” the latter featuring Ginger’s young son Jake on guitar and vocals.
If those choices don’t stray too far from the path, then few might have expected little known B-side “Got It On Tuesday” and “Naivety Play” an album track from “PHUQ” to be played. That they were says much for the depth in quality of the Wildhearts songs.
The usual singalong of “Geordie In Wonderland” “29x The Pain” and “I Wanna Go Where The People Go” finishes us off, after all are chosen by the audience and brings the curtain down on a quite brilliant evening and one which reminds us just what an incredible band The Wildhearts were (are?)
The group – with CJ and Rich who played on the original album, being joined by Jon Poole on bass - are clearly enjoying themselves immensely on stage but whether this heralds a more permanent reunion and new music remains to be seen. For now, lets just glory in this evening, which was, for all sorts of reasons, amazing.