It’s a most typical wet and miserable night in Derby, but one that is about to be lit up by Ginger Wildheart and his acoustic comrades.
We’ve battled through the traffic after work countless times to get to various Ginger and/or Wildhearts gigs over in Nottingham from Derby. Just for once, the main man is coming to us. Little old Derby… where the traffic is just as bad. Horrendous actually.
It’s no secret that Nottingham gets the lion’s share of the decent gigs around these parts, so we were a little apprehensive as to just how many people would make the trip out here tonight. As we enter the dark cavern that is the backroom of the Hairy Dog, we’re pleasantly surprised that there a loads of folk here.
Derby has done us proud!
Kicking off the night is another chap of the Ginger race. Billy Liar is one man and a guitar but instantly likeable through both his dulcet Scottish tones and his vast array of catchy tunes. He specialises in toe-tappers that you don’t need to know to enjoy, but he gives you a little clue as to the background of each song anyway.
The urban poet come street punk delivers a short sharp set of folky uproar and even chucks in a Scott Sorry cover for a finale.
Next up, it is one woman and a guitar. Well a couple of guitars and a loop pedal, actually. She Makes War, or Laura, is another instantly likeable character who indulges us in tales of leaving her bags back at home in her bedroom before coming out on tour, her previous encounters with Derby audiences and general chit-chat between her songs.
Oh yes, she has songs (and a clipboard) that are generally of the acoustic and mellow variety but there’s still some rock punch in there too for those who can’t do without that sort of thing. Although she unveils a couple of different instruments throughout the set, her main weapon is her voice that can transform from poppy to eerily shrill on demand.
Finally, the main man takes to the stage backed up by long-time acoustic sidekick Jase and Sophia and Adam too. The crowd has swollen to a very healthy size as Derby’s traffic allows everyone to get to the venue at last and it’s smiles all around.
This acoustic tour sits nicely between the recent ‘Wildhearts Wakefield gig and the upcoming Britrock tour; both of which deal in the greatest hits of Ginger and co. These acoustic shows take Ginger away from the well trodden touring path around the UK, visiting venues such as this one here in Derby, Cheltenham and err… Hull. It’s also a chance to air some songs from Ginger’s vast solo career, in particularly from his latest outing: ‘Ghost in the Tanglewood’.
A quick show of hands as to who owns this new album and most people seem to own it. Apart from one chap down at the front who stands defiantly with his hands in his pockets. Ginger does the sales pitch, and after a few sampler songs via the live set, he trots off with his tenner to the merch desk. Good sales technique there, Ginger.
We get plenty of new stuff with ‘Paying it Forward’ already slotting into the set like an old favourite. ‘The Pendine Incident’ is a year or so older, but is also a firm favourite in the set nowadays. A few Wildhearts tracks make it in too; ‘Geordie’ and ‘One love, One life…’ raise some serious sing-alongs but ‘Mazel Tov Cocktail’ really gets the crowd participating under the house lights.
Playing with the house lights on. How very Metallica!
No encore, just a big long list of songs and plenty of smiles all around. A great evening in the company of some great friends and heroes.