Six months ago, I didn’t give a shit about The Wildhearts. Then, they played Steelhouse and brought the only sunny moment of the weekend with them. I knew a whole two songs – the first and the last ones of the set. But they had my attention for the duration because they were that damn good.
Fast forward to tonight in Glasgow’s SWG3 (the arse end of the West End where even its hipster population daren’t tread) and it’s the last night of their quick jaunt across the UK playing Earth Vs The Wildhearts in full in celebration of its 25th anniversary (which they also did for the 20th anniversary). First, up, though, are Ferocious Dog. Taking over the reins since The Moodswingers weren’t able to make it (this was actually The Wildhearts performing their first two EPs as their own support) and The Amorettes unfortunately had to pull out (our sympathies are with them during this time), they have control of the crowd from the start.
The Celtic/folk punk act are full of energy, taking plenty of time to dedicate multiple songs to people in the crowd or those not in the room. In true punk sensibility, it’s a set full of anger, rage, fury and takes aim at the ills of society. There’s acoustic guitar, banjo, mandolin, fiddle and more all tied in with the more traditional punk elements. Thankfully, not all of this is at the same time and whilst there’s always six instruments being played at any one time, it never becomes overwhelming. Instead, it’s all blended together to ensure people are jumping and singing from start to finish and as an extra bonus, everything is perfectly mixed to ensure nothing is buried. The band take time to thank The Wildhearts and plug their upcoming Glasgow gig next year and given the response, it’ll likely be a busy night.
Anticipation fills the room as it’s plunged into darkness. With no grand entrance, The Wildhearts mount the stage and begin to batter through “Greeting From Shitsville”. The entire album is full of chunky, punk-influenced riffs and to reflect the album, the band onstage are relentless, hammering through song after song with just a brief “thank you” from Ginger, describing the album as a bunch of demos. “Everlone” is loaded with swagger whilst “Caffeine Bomb” is intense. Then there’s the catchy choruses on numbers like “Loveshit”, “The Miles Away Girl” and “My Baby is a Headfuck”.
Meanwhile, “News of the World” is as accurate as it was a quarter of a century ago, if not more so nowadays as social media consumes our time with “fake news” and we put celebrities on a pedestal. And as the band careen towards the end of the album with “Love U ‘til I Don’t”, you realise just how damn special it is. It’s one of these rare albums where there’s not a bad song on it. However, what I should note is that I’ve listened to said album a whole two times. And each track I recognised – that’s how much of an impact this album has.
Playing the entirety of Earth Vs… in full, from start to finish, not screwing around with the track order or peppering it through with other songs, they play it as it was meant to be listened before leaving the stage. It’s not encore time – just the second half. Re-appearing, it’s into the familiar territory of “Sick of Drugs” and “Vanilla Radio”. “Red Light – Green Light” has the stage decked out in matching colours and “Geordie in Wonderland” has a rousing response. And the finale suckerpunch of “29 x The Pain” and ramped-up version of “I Wanna Go Where the People Go” has the crowd give every last piece of their energy.
Throughout the set the band are on top form, CJ bouncing around the stage with enough energy to put Tigger on half a dozen Red Bulls to shame. Danny spends much of his set on his stool but gives nothing less than an impassioned performance and Ritch batters his drums to within an inch of their life. Meanwhile, Ginger is in fine vocal form, although not as chatty as he was during their Steelhouse set, he looks just as happy to be on stage.
Albums performed in full can often be a slog. But when you’ve got such a great album in your arsenal, doing anything less than the full album would be a tragedy. With the crowd lapping up every minute and the band enjoying themselves, it’s one of those nights you simply don’t want to end. And now that I’ve seen them twice, The Wildhearts are now comfortably one of my favourite live bands.