The Wildhearts - Stylus, Leeds 11.05.2019
Hands up who’s seen a bad Wildhearts show?...no, didn’t think so.
You see, The Wildhearts have been slaying audiences on and off for coming on 25 years. They have a brand new album, their first in a decade; it’s called ‘Renaissance Men’. A 38 minute rollercoaster of euphoric melodies and crunchy rifforama, guaranteed to induce a pilo erection (look it up!) at every twist and turn. It’s an album you need in your life right now.
Their turbulent history has been well documented; suffice to say it’s a miracle they are still alive, let alone able to record arguably their strongest album since the debut ‘Earth Vs The Wildhearts’. It’s great to have the classic line up re-united, recording and playing shows.
Joining them for a run of 8 UK dates are Lancashire lads Massive Wagons and another reformation some of us thought we would never see... Towers Of London.
Stylus has that Classic Rock venue feel as soon as I enter. It feels like Nottingham Rock City and it’s already pretty packed as those reprobates Towers Of London hit the stage to their signature air raid siren.
The last time this line-up toured it ended in 3 arrests, 1 court appearance and a stolen tour bus. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, you certainly can’t ignore this band. And Donny Tourette and the boys play a blinding set of 70’s punk infused anthems, like they’ve never been away.
From opener ‘I’m A Rat’ to the closing ‘Fuck It Up’ the boiler suit clad mob deliver low slung, buzzsaw guitar antics and sneering vocals. A heady mix of debut album cuts and newbies from their upcoming album keep the pace up and the interest high. With The Rev and drummer Snell back in the fold, they appear to be having the time of their lives and it’s certainly good to have them back.
Massive Wagons are a band who have been making waves in all the right places for a couple of years now. Their brand of ‘Classic’ Rock is not really my cup of tea and to be honest, I don’t really get it.
But I am certainly in the minority judging by the response every time I see them, so they must be doing something right.
Diminutive frontman Baz can work a crowd like a pro and the band deliver a high energy set to be fair. But, they just don’t do it for me and I must admit I find myself wondering to the bar to grab a pint and watch from a distance before the headliners appear.
Tonight, I am joined by a good friend who has never really been a Wildhearts fan and has never seen them live before. He recently became interested after the new album instantly clicked and he left tonight stating it to be the best gig he will see all year. I smile and wonder how many similar stories have been told on this tour so far.
As Ginger bashes out the intro to newbie ‘Dislocated’, the Wildhearts proceed to rip Stylus a new one! This is live Rock ‘n’ Roll as it is intended to be experienced. Hot, heavy and euphoric. The band are tight and full of energy, playing like it’s their last show on the planet. The dual vocals of Ginger and CJ are spot on, the rumbling bass of match fit bassist Danny McCormack hits the in the chest and the frantic, intense drum work of Ritch Battersby, (probably the most underrated drummer in rock ‘n’ roll) just all gels perfectly. This is a band who know each other’s moves perfectly.
Riff after riff, hit after hit, the pace of the set does not falter one bit. ‘Everlone’, ‘Vanilla Radio, ‘Suckerpunch’ and ‘Sick Of Drugs’ are delivered in quick succession, no fucking about. Just those four songs alone would be enough to make lesser bands throw down their instruments weeping, but The Wildhearts haven’t even got going yet.
The welcome inclusion of lesser played classics such as ‘The Jackson Whites’ and ‘The Revolution Will Be Televised’ are definite highlights, along with newbies ‘Let ‘Em Go’ and ‘Diagnosis’, these new songs already have the “classic live favourite” stamp of approval, judging by the response from the bouncing die-hards in the pit as they sing along to those instantly satisfying choruses.
As the final notes of fifth encore ‘I Wanna Go Where The People Go’ rings out, and you get that feeling of a mass of people searching for that post-sex cigarette, I just wonder to myself how on earth this band are not a household name yet.
Tonight was my gig of the year without a doubt. The Wildhearts will be playing somewhere near you at some point this year, do not hesitate to bag yourself a ticket and have the time of your life.
The Wildhearts - https://www.facebook.com/TheWildhearts/
Massive Wagons - https://www.facebook.com/MassiveWagons/
Towers Of London - https://www.facebook.com/towersoflondonband/
Photos - Neil Vary Gig Photography
Review - Ben Hughes