Monday, December 08, 2008

Gig Review : The Wildhearts @ Hard Rock Hell*****

The stage is being moved around by two sets of roadies, the last band had huge stacks of Marshall amps built up with military precision and measured to the millimetre, the next band's amps are a mix of makes, and they are wheeled onto the stage and left where they land. That's because the last band on stage were the oh so serious Black Label Society, and the next band are The Wildhearts.

This festival is rock music to the max, in style and length, each evening in the main hall there are two bands doing a set after the headline act have departed, The Wildhearts take to the stage at around 1.30 Sunday morning, and there's still Viking Skull to come.

Ritch Battersby (and isn't that a fine surname for a sticksman!?) seats himself at his kit and begins to batter out the beat for Nita Nitro, the rest of the band, Scott, C J and Ginger, saunter on and arrange themselves and then launch into the song proper. It is followed with Vanilla Radio and Someone That Won't Let Me Go and the audience respond as Wildherts fans do, the front of the crowd instantly turns into a sweaty pushing, shoving, shouting scrum. Viewing the set from the back, my wife said that The Wildhearts had more people jumping around than any band we saw all weekend, from the front rows all I can say is that it was business as usual.

The Wildhearts provide better entertainment than other band. Period. Ginger is a witty and engaging frontman, chatting amiably along with the crowd as first Scott and then CJ experience technical problems. Then it's Everlone from their 15 years old debut album and the crowd go fairly mental, but not half as mental as when they launch the trio of Caffiene Bomb, Suckerpunch and Headfuck. Exuberant fans are dancing wildly with each other and shouting the lyrics into each other's faces from inches away. In between songs I hear the refrain "I've been waiting all weekend for this" a dozen times over.

All too early it's over, the band wind it down with an extended I Wanna Go Where The People Go and they're gone. In the crowd there are hundreds of people wearing huge, happy grins, clapping each other on the back and telling each other that this was the best band of the weekend. The Wildhearts were the best band, and The Wildhearts fans are the best fans. If you stood at the back unsure of whether or not to join in, just come down the front, join the Wildhearts family, bounce around a bit, it's great fun, and you'll be most welcome.

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