The Ginger Wildheart Band Live in Leeds and Manchester

Main Grains CackBlabbath 05Ginger has well and truly brought us the summer over the last week or two. His latest solo tour, or performing as the leader of the Ginger Wildheart Band (GWB)… whichever you prefer, has coincided with the sun well and truly showing it’s face all over the UK.

As usual, one show is never enough for, so we headed off to both Leeds and Manchester to see the GWB, completed by Conny, Toshi and Denzil on this jaunt.

The double header also made sure we caught all the support acts too. Ginger usually brings along some like-minded souls on his tours. If Ryan Hamilton operates in a few similar circles to Wildhearts fans, then The Main Grains occupy just about all the circles as ex-Wildheart, Danny, had his new band on the bill at The Brudenell. Also in Manchester some more familiar faces awaited us as there was some Massive Wagons action to start off the night.

So, we’ll to and fro between both shows…

Leeds was our first show of the tour and as we arrived just before doors we were greeted with most of the crowd and a smattering of band members out in the beer garden/yard, soaking up the sun and the beer. The Brudenell is somewhat of a legendary venue so it was nice to get there and see what all the fuss is about. It was all very relaxed…

The Main Grains were due onstage at 19:30 and it will come to the surprise of nobody in attendance that at precisely that time Ginna and JJ are rushing around trying to find a certain band member! Danny doesn’t evade them for too long and The Main Grains get up on stage for what we believe is gig number four in their history.

They manage to drag everyone inside and they deliver their infectious punk’n’roll with precision. It’s simple sounding stuff “Thanks to The Ramones for writing that one, even though they’re dead” beams Danny after ‘Unscrewed’ but it certainly ticks all the boxes for us. The band may not have come up with a massively choreographed stage show just yet but they do look comfortable and happy together. They rattle through the E.P. and we get an old Yo-Yo’s tune to finish.

Brill stuff!

Brudenell Social Club, despite it’s legendary status, is indeed a social club and looks as tired and unexciting as that image in your head. Not many gig venues look particularly beautiful when the lights go up.

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Manchester’s Deaf Institute is one of the exceptions however…

A beautiful stage adorned with some luxurious wallpaper, a rooftop terrace just stage left and a mini auditorium seating set-up at the back. It all looks a bit too nice for a rock show.

Massive Wagons put an immediate stop to any relaxed atmosphere that was conjured up by these plush surroundings. Going off like a bomb from the start, the ever foot-stomping, headbanging, hair swirling bundle of energy that is Barry Mills announces himself to the legions of Ginger fans in attendance.

A smashing set of their unashamedly hard rock in the searing heat of the Deaf Institute well and truly gets the night underway. Finishing off with their own classic ‘Red Dress’ the ‘Wagons will have won a fair few new fans courtesy of this tour run.

They are not the only ones…

Ryan Hamilton CackBlabbath 10What seems to be a relationship born over Twitter has blown up into a full blown love affair on this tour. Sometime last year/earlier this year Ginger started tweeting about Ryan Hamilton and vice versa. Now they are on tour together and apparently, good friends to boot.

Ryan Hamilton’s music isn’t a straight forward parallel with Ginger Wildheart or The Wildhearts. Ryan treads very much on the pop side of pop rock, with sweet melodies and sugary vocals. It’s not immediately what you would expect to go down well as a support act on this tour.

We’re obviously very wrong and a combination of Ryan Hamilton and the Traitors catching tracks and Ryan’s onstage charisma wins everyone over instantly should they not know him and his crew already.

Leeds was a chat-a-thon, with plenty of rude words (don’t say the C word to Ryan!) and Manchester was a technical mire rescued brilliantly. We even get a jam of a potential new hit single… ‘Twatbasket’

Ryan, much like Ginger, has the gift of the gab up on stage and easily makes himself at home in front of what should be a tough crowd. It’s not all about him, Rob and Mickey are an ace backing band that you would never believe live thousands of miles apart. And that kind of chemistry and understanding doesn’t come easily, does it…

‘Medicine’ is probably one of the biggest ear-worms of this whole tour, goddammit! It’s still in there a week later…

So, just the small matter of this latest incarnation of the GWB to finish up then….

GWB CackBlabbath 03This incarnation of the band is almost a greatest hits of Ginger’s solo career. Toshi is very much a part of “now” with Ginger’s work, mainly the pop-tastic Hey!Hello! but he’s been around here and there for years. Denzil is the main man on the drums and has been for a decade or more. Conny’s return is probably the biggest and sweetest surprise of this bunch however. Conny was a big part of the Sonic Circus era that really kickstarted Ginger’s solo career and ‘Valor De Corazon’ may well be the best album he’s ever put out (in this writer’s opinion, anyway) from that period. So Conny’s presence brings back some great memories…

One of which would be seeing Ginger & The Sonic Circus many years ago at The Rescue Rooms in Nottingham. It was a balmy night and the band was on top form, but people kept fainting due to the heat (and a few other reasons). Fast forward to Manchester on this tour and it’s an absolute sold out scorcher. The sweat is heavy in the air, for sure.

Manchester’s atmosphere reached electric levels at points with ‘Sonic Shake’ doing just that to the third floor room. Ginger “thought we might go through the stage there” and there were several occasions where the crowd sung their oxygen deprived lungs out. ‘Top Of The World’ was aired in a rare appearance on tour. ‘This is only a Problem’ and ‘I Wanna Be New’ yield similar results. The band drag themselves out for a Wildhearts-coated encore with three choice cuts from the greatest hits: ‘Geordie – Suckerpunch – 29x’ = Awesome!

Manchester certainly won the atmosphere competition between the two cities. Leeds was more laid back with everyone having easy access to the beer garden for a chill and to enjoy one of the first days of summer…

All until the Leeds encore, that is!

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It was predictable, but we didn’t really dare hope for it. Danny and Ginger on stage together, ripping through some old Wildhearts classics. A bit of an emotional moment for any fan of The Wildhearts to see these guys back together after years of bad blood. Ginger advises us all not to hold grudges and there’s a big session of back-slapping and smiles all round on stage.

A joyous moment for all involved.