LIVE: For Sorry’s Sake, Wakefield Warehouse 23, 23/02/2018
It’s often said that the band have a notoriously loyal following, but the events of recent months have proved that whoever said that “being a Wildhearts fan is like being part of the biggest rock ‘n’ roll family on earth” really wasn’t exaggerating.
Just before Christmas, it was announced that former Wildhearts bassist Scott Sorry, also formerly of Amen, Brides of Destruction and Sorry and The Sinatras, was suffering from a brain tumour. Within a week, Hearts fans had clubbed together to raise the $30,000 needed to pay Scott’s initial round of medical bills, and a trio of fundraising gigs had been announced. Tonight is the third of these – late January saw a gig in Edinburgh featuring Tyla J Pallas, Billy Liar and Matty James Cassidy plus a headline act of an all-star band covering Sorry’s songs, while the week before this gig saw Role Models, The Main Grains, Zen Motel, The Empty Page, Modern Day Dukes and The Idol Dead come together for a fundraising effort at the excellent Huddersfield Parish venue.
Even given the background though, tonight really does feel like a special occasion – for the first time in 12 years, tonight sees the classic Wildhearts line-up of Ginger, CJ, Danny McCormack and Ritch Battersby sharing a stage again. With a full tour coming up co-headlining with Reef and Terrorvision in the spring, and the promise of a new album later in the year, this genuinely feels like a special night.
Kicking things off tonight is an acoustic set by Ginger and Eureka Machines frontman Chris Catalyst, taking in a mix of both men’s output, with Ginger’s Burn This City Down and This Is Only A Problem plus the Eurekas’ Wish You Were Her and newie The Next Line off their soon-to-be-released Little Victories album. Signing off with a cover of A-Ha’s Take On Me (a regular staple of acoustic Eurekas gigs) and a heartfelt rendition of The Only One, sung by Scott during his tenure with The Wildhearts, this was a great way to kick off the evening.
Kid Klumsy are Dirt Box Disco singer Weab’s other band, and this is the first time I’ve heard them. Initial reaction is that I’m a bit confused to be honest – one moment they’re powering through a 900mph Discharge-style slice of thrash, the next they’ve gone all Green Day pop-punk on us. Honestly, I’d probably need to see these guys again on their own terms to make a proper judgment on them.
By contrast, this is the second time I’ve seen Massive Wagons live, and I have to admit to being a bit underwhelmed when I first caught them doing a mid-afternoon set at the Ramblin’ Man festival in Maidstone a couple of years ago. That day they seemed to be yet another one of those incredibly tedious no-frills “rock revival” bands who usually end up clogging up the lower end of classic rock festivals and support slots. Tonight though… well, they don’t exactly torch my preconceptions, but they definitely warm them over a reasonable heat I’d say. Sure, you’d never accuse Massive Wagons of being the most original band in this world, but there’s an energy to them which carries them through this set and ensures they get a good reception from the assembled hordes here tonight. Maybe this lot are worth keeping an eye out for after all.
It’s been well over a decade since I last caught Sonic Boom Six, at the Wasted Punk Festival (as Rebellion was known back then) in Morecambe. Tonight’s set shows just how much they’ve grown as a band since those early days, and they get a deserved ovation from the Yorkshire crowd tonight as the incendiary likes of No Man No Right and call to arms closer Kids Of The Multiculture detonate the place with supreme precision. Laila and Barney have grown into a razor-sharp frontline, while the group are sounding supremely tight. The last couple of years have seen SB6’s profile continuing to grow both at home and abroad, and on this evidence it’s much deserved.
It’s quite a coup that The Wildhearts have managed to snag The Professionals as the main support for this gig, and although hands up I wasn’t all that enthused by their comeback album, they’re on good form tonight and warm the packed out venue up nicely for the headliners. Songs like Good Man Down, New Generation and Going Going Gone pack a suitably hard punch, with Tom Spencer doing a good job of acting as a lightning conductor for the band’s energy up front, and proving why he’s one of the more under-rated frontmen in rock ‘n’ roll today. Chris McCormack’s riffs and the powerhouse rhythm section of Paul Cook and Paul Myers making sure these songs sound tight as hell. And let’s face it, you can’t argue with classics like Join The Professionals, Kick Down The Doors and a storming closer of 1-2-3. Good stuff.
From the moment that the unmistakeable opening chords of I Wanna Go Where The People Go ring out over the sound of the Warehouse 23 crowd chanting Danny McCormack’s name upon his return, it’s pretty clear that The Wildhearts mean business tonight, with TV Tan and My Baby Is A Headfuck following up to devastating effect. Tonight’s set is firmly rooted in the band’s 90s output, but that’s no bad thing as, to misquote one of the Wildies’ album titles, it really is Hit After Hit After Motherfucking Hit with Caffeine Bomb, Suckerpunch, Sick Of Drugs, Vanilla Radio and Greetings From Shitsville all getting an outing. Hearing a mass crowd singalong to the classic Weekend (Five Long Days) really is a great moment, and all too soon the epic Everlone sees the set draw to a close.
That’s not it for the night by a long stretch though, as Ginger leads the band out back again augmented by Chris Catalyst on guitar and with Toshi from Lupus Dei (another who’s served time with the Wildhearts in the past) standing in for Danny who’s backstage having a much-needed breather. We get Main Grains drummer Ginna stepping up for a cover of Teenage Kicks (which he usually sings live with the Grains as well), touchingly dedicated to his Mum who passed away the previous month, before Barry from Massive Wagons and Laila from Sonic Boom Six step up for cover versions of Highway To Hell and Cheap Trick’s Surrender respectively. Covers of The Ramones’ I Wanna Be Sedated (with CJ taking the mic) and Motorhead’s Overkill with Ginger handling vocals and bass in tribute to Lemmy. Finally, we get Paul Cook, Tom Spencer and Chris McCormack joining the group onstage for a closing run through the Pistols’ Pretty Vacant – pretty awesome with Cook playing the drums on it as well.
In summary – a bloody brilliant evening for a very worthwhile cause, you really should have been there. And if you weren’t then don’t worry, there are more benefit gigs for Sorry being planned for later in the year. Get well soon Scott, all of us at Pure Rawk are rooting for you and looking forward to seeing you back tearing it up onstage again in the near future. You can support the Gofundme campaign for Scott at www.gofundme.com/scottsorry.