This evening couldn’t have started any better. The end of the school year, prizeday, saying goodbye to many wonderful young people I’ve known for six years, and a big lunch with my colleagues. Followed by several beers with said colleagues in a nice big pub in town.
With the sun still shining and nary a cloud in the sky I had to leg it from the pub to get to the Bandstand a few minutes away where I discovered that I’d already missed Baby Chaos (sorry!) and that The Wildhearts were already on stage, having launched into opener “Dislocated” then segued straight into long time classic “Everlone”. “Vanilla Radio” had the early evening crowd giving it some “woah-oh-oh” as Ginger and co kept the impetus up with “Suckerpunch” and “Sick of Drugs” at (roughly) which time my vocal cords realised they were going to take a beating tonight.
Knowing their time was limited. The Wildhearts didn’t stop for long to chat, choosing to spend their set expressing themselves musically. “Let ‘Em Go” and “Caffeine Bomb” flowed into “Diagnosis” before everything was wrapped up far too soon by “I Wanna Go Where The People Go”.
I’d seen several people in the pub earlier wearing band shirts and the majority had the recognisable smiley face and crossbones on them. The turnout was great, the atmosphere electric, the sound system spot on and Ginger certainly seemed to be having a whale of a time. Danny was smiling when he wasn’t singing, CJ was on top form and Rich… well, he was Rich! As good a set as I’ve ever seen from The Wildhearts and over in the blink of an eye. They are always welcome back.
Terrorvision are another favourite of mine, particularly live. While I’ve found their albums a bit hit and miss songwise, they almost always nail their live set with the best of the best and tonight’s 45 minutes was no exception. In short, they were absolutely fucking brilliant. The opening salvo of “Alice What’s The Matter”, “Discotheque Wreck” and “Pretend Best Friend” left you in no doubt that here was a band out to party, and party hard. I was down the front taking photos at this point, screaming “Something about 4, 5, 6 and 7!” in my own personal duet with bassist Leigh towards the end of “Alice” (when he wasn’t busy twisting his mouth in an attempt to mimic the shape of his guitar – check out the photos for proof!).
By the time my 3 song limit was over, the crowd was bouncing… as was I as they moved into “My House” and its pogo-inducing ending. I still remember the first time I ever saw them play this live, at Bradford University Student Union. Bloody hell – nigh on 25 years ago. A rapt crowd responded well to “D’ya Wanna Go Faster” and “Josephine” with voices raised for “What Makes You Tick”.
If you weren’t bouncing to “Oblivion” then you were legally dead (or too drunk to stand up, also acceptable in the balmy surroundings), a song that many bands could wrap up their show with. But, no, we still had “If I Was You” and the more mellow singalong “Middleman”, before “Celebrity Hit List” and the actual show-ender “Perseverance” (see previous note about recognised signs of death).
I lived in Bradford for 13 years. I (unwittingly) lived across the road from a couple of the guys for a year or three, and if I’m completely honest I don’t miss the place that much. But I do miss one of its great musical creations. Tony, Mark, Leigh and new(ish) boys Milton and Cameron – please get back up here soon!
The gig was billed as a three-string co-headliner, but it made complete sense to have Gun top the bill in front of their hometown fans, particularly as it was a bucket list venue for reinvented frontman Dante who recalled seeing James play the same stage many years ago. Now I’m not as big a fan of Gun as I am of the other two man bands on the bill, but I have seen them live and I know they can rock… and they certainly didn’t disappoint.
“She Knows”, “Don’t Say It’s Over” and the wonderful “Better Days” was the three-song warmup, though the audience were on the ball from the moment the band strode on stage. The inevitable, and great fun, “Word Up!” cover never gets old and I may, may have been air guitaring just a little bit.
The new album got a bit of coverage with the title track (a great live number, really thumps) and “Take Me Down” bracketing the fantastic “Taking on the World”. The latter song was, despite actually not being one I knew that well, a highlight of the gig. Why, because I spent it people-watching. Without turning my head I could see: a large biker-ish chap and his partner wrapped up in each others arms; a guy in a leather waistcoat belting out the lyrics with a huge grin on his face; five middle-aged men, with their arms round each others shoulders, bouncing; a very well-presented (OK, posh-looking) lady who wouldn’t have looked out of place inviting people to dinner in her expensive West End flat going at it like she was auditioning to be in a Whitesnake video (and, honestly, I’d have had her on shortlist); a gentleman twenty years my senior, give or take, clapping and singing along; a chap with bleached, spiked hair and a red fishnet top (punk as fuck, frankly) who knew all the words.
If that collection of utterly different individuals all getting wrapped up to one song at a beautiful venue on the best day of the year weather-wise doesn’t sell how good this gig was, then nothing will.
After “Inside Out”, Gun powered into probably my favourite song from them – the voice-shredding “Steal Your Fire”. I blame my hoarseness today on this song, and this song alone. OK, and the previous two sets from Terrorvision and The Wildhearts. We maybe thought the gig was over with “Shame On You” as Dante did mention that they were pushing it for time, but with a shout of “Kick it!”, they launched into a third song from the new album, a cover of the Beastie Boys classic “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)” which guaranteed a hot, sweaty, grinning, knackered, ecstatic audience by the time the final notes died out.
As we were reminded a few times, Gun will be back in town on December 21st at Barrowlands where they’ll plough through Taking On The World in its 30-year old entirety.
Tonight’s show was brilliant. Pick a word that means the same and add it to the list. A superb line-up in the best conditions you could hope for at an outside gig. The sets were long enough to get you going, and in every case leave you wishing there was more. The lights for each band were pretty useless as it was still so bright, but it didn’t matter. All three (again, sorry Baby Chaos) bands proved that you don’t need Rammstein-level pyro, Watain-laundry requiring pig’s blood squirting, a huge walking zombie mascot or £3m worth of fireworks to put on a hell of a show.
You need rock. You need roll. You need fun. You need an audience who love the previous three things. Job done, one of the best gigs this year. Hands down.
All photos (c) Iain Purdie