LIVE: The Wildhearts, Camden Koko 02/12/18
It’s often said that Wildhearts fans are a pretty tight-knit community, and upon arriving at the venue tonight, I’m amazed at how many people I run into within just a few minutes, some of whom I haven’t seen for months if not years. The occasion of a 25th anniversary Earth Vs The Wildhearts gig has definitely brought the fans here in numbers, and it’s safe to say they weren’t disappointed.
First though… it’s been a couple of years since I last saw The Amorettes live, which was always their strongest environment with their raw energy never failing to knock you for six at their gigs. Tonight though, they seem a little bit subdued, possibly because bassist Heather McKay is laid low with a virus forcing a last minute line-up change. Her stand-in does a decent enough job and the set’s still got plenty of fire in it via songs like Bull By The Horns and recent single Everything I Learnt (I Learnt From Rock ‘n’ Roll), but it’s perhaps understandable that the band don’t quite seem to be firing on all cylinders tonight. Hopefully next time out they’ll be back and fighting fit.
I have to be honest and admit that while I’d heard of Ferocious Dog going into this gig (mainly through the presence of Les “Fruitbat” Carter, formerly of Carter USM being on six-string duties for them), I hadn’t actually heard anything by them. As it turns out, they’re decent enough with their brand of folk-punk going down pretty well with the assembled ‘Hearts legion, and no doubt winning them a few new fans tonight. The obvious comparisons here are with the Levellers and the Men They Couldn’t Hang, but there’s enough of their own stamp on here to make them stand out from the crowd and it’s definitely made me keen to check them out in a bit more detail.
You know what you’re getting from a Wildhearts “Earth Vs” set from the off, Lord knows this is the third time I’ve seen them doing this set, having also been to the 15th and 20th anniversary shows, but good songwriting never goes out of style, and let’s be honest, Ginger is pretty much the embodiment of that. Hearing the likes of Everlone, Caffeine Bomb, My Baby Is A Headfuck and Suckerpunch never gets old, and it’s always good to hear the less-frequently-played-live songs off the album like Loveshit, Drinking About Life and set closer Love U ‘Til I Don’t get an airing. There’s also something a bit special about hearing these songs done by the line-up who toured them originally way back in the day (bassist Danny having missed the previous anniversary shows), and it genuinely feels like a bit of a special night.
An encore with the other hits (Sick of Drugs, 29 x The Pain, Geordie In Wonderland and a storming I Wanna Go Where The People Go) wraps the night up nicely, and it’s safe to say the crowd are heading home happy this Sunday night, albeit with a sense of dread about the fact that Monday morning is almost certainly gonna involve a hangover of hellacious proportions.
With the Wildhearts gearing up for a new album in 2019, it’s safe to say they’re showing no signs of slowing down as the years pass, and thank feck for that. Long may they reign.