Monday, 15 September 2014

22/6/2013 The WiLDHEARTS 'Earth Vs...' album show @ The Forum

For many people (me included) today holds one of the most eagerly anticipated gigs of the year, but first a bunch of us are meeting in a pub. Usually this would be the Bull & Gate as the show is at The Forum, but it's fallen out of favour recently as it's no longer a live music venue - so we go to the nearby Southampton Arms instead. I liked this pub's style as soon as I looked at it's website - they don't take cards (how often have you been pissed off while waiting to get served while some trendy idiot takes ages paying by card?) and they don't have a phone to take bookings etc. Most of us have never been to this pub before, but it seems to have got rather a good reputation with those who take their ale and cider seriously - which most of us do too. I'm surprised at how small the pub is, but it oozes character - good old fashioned outdoor toilets as well. It's pretty crowded too, and many of the people in there are obviously going to the same gig as we are. The selection of real ales and ciders on offer is massive! Some are a bit on the pricey side though. So much to try and so little time... My plan is to do all my drinking in here before the gig and avoid the venue's overpriced and poor quality bar. The Southampton Arms stocks many stronger than average ales, and if anything my plan works rather too well....

I'm not too bothered about missing the first support band, and from what I hear from those who did see them this is just as well. However, the next band is the rather brilliant Eureka Machines who I am determined not to miss. After sinking 'one more for the road' after my more sensible friends have already left for the show I arrive at The Forum and am in front of the stage about one minute before the band hit the stage.
Eureka Machines play a great show - I've never seen them do anything less. It doesn't match the energy and atmosphere of their recent headline show at The Borderline, but that show was pretty special. Tonight they have a stand-in on second guitar due to family commitments, and obviously this isn't 'their' crowd tonight - although there is a strong crossover element in the fans of this band and the headliners - with frontman Chris Catalyst also playing guitar in Ginger's solo band as well as in über-goths Sisters Of Mercy.
Sorry for the shit quality pictures - I didn't think it worth bringing my malfunctioning  camera and have it ruin my enjoyment of another gig while I try to make it work - so I used my new smartphone instead. It's a bit crap under these conditions... Eureka machines are on a bit of a high at the moment after a very successful headline tour of their own, and the recent release of their excellent third album funded by a PledgeMusic campaign which took off beyond all expectations. It's good to see this band on a bigger stage for a change - they really deserve it and I still maintain they are probably the best live band in the UK. Seriously.

And so to the headliners. A WiLDHEARTS show is always a highly anticipated event, but this one is extra-special; the band are doing a series of 'Earth Vs The Wildhearts' gigs where they are playing the whole of their classic first album. Needless to say, there is great excitement regarding this! This album is effectively the band's 'Appetite For Destruction' as this raw debut album contains many of the best songs of the band's career and was the only album recorded by what many regard as the 'classic' lineup of the band. Only Ginger and C.J. from that version of the Wildhearts remain in the current band, but regardless of that a lot of people are now saying the current lineup is actually the best. Ritch Battersby is now the longest serving Wildhearts drummer, and the enormously popular Jon 'Random' Poole is certainly the best bass player the band have had by a considerable margin - regardless of not appearing on the bands earlier albums.
I don't think the band have ever been tighter or played better than they are doing now. The past problems of substance and alcohol abuse are now ancient history, and everyone seems to be getting on great.
Needless to say, from the album opener 'Greetings From Shitsville' the place goes crazy! The band tear through the album with a tightness and ferocity rarely (if ever) seen. With so many classic songs on the first album they can't go wrong really!
As always at Wildhearts gigs, the atmosphere is amazing - I don't think you'll ever heard any crowd singing along louder! And not just the the chorus - people are singing every word to every song. This is a band and an album that mean a great deal to a lot of people - and it shows. 'TV Tan', 'Everlone', 'Loveshit', 'My Baby Is A Headfuck', and so on - this band have more great songs on their first album than many bands get in their whole career! These are songs which really hit home and strike a chord with people - hence they still sound relevant to us all these years later.
All too soon the band have played the whole album, and the popular 'Caffeine Bomb' which didn't appear on the original version of 'Earth Vs...'  Then they take a short break before coming back with a sort of 'best of the rest' set including more recent songs like the huge singalong crowd pleaser 'Vanilla Radio' - a song which oddly enough I have heard more on the radio recently than when it was first released. Fortunately this band have more than enough crowd pleasers left from the rest of their back-catalogue, but the Wildhearts are never predictable and some B-sides and other obscurities are thrown in as well. That's something this band can get away with easily as even their B-sides are better than most bands A-sides! The whole evening is something of a triumph, with the Wildhearts on absolutely top form and two terrific setlists. The band themselves look like they have enjoyed the show as much as the audience!
It's been an amazing night and a brilliant show - it was never likely to be anything else really. The only problem for me was losing track of all my friends from the pub earlier - my fault. It was one of those gigs where I knew there were loads of people there that I knew somewhere among the 2000+ throng but I couldn't find many of them. Somehow I found myself at the aftershow later and I did catch up with a lot of people there - and unlike a lot of other band's aftershows all the band turned up later too. The venue were kicking everyone out by three in the morning though, but the ever wonderful Jason & Trudi gave me a lift to Kings Cross where I got a night bus home virtually straight away. Result!

Oh - and if you want to see a load of good pro quality pictures from this gig then go and look at Trudi Knight's pictures here. ;-)


  1. Good to see you're back to reviewing the bar as much as the bands! ;-) (Quite a few of us were pre-drinking at a rival pub; I won't comment on the quality of drinks but it was big enough to house quite a number of the gig audience.)

    Oh, one small point: Caffeine Bomb was *not* played during the "Earth vs." set! It made it into the second set a few times this tour (though I can't remember if London was one of the times it was played.)

  2. I'm sure I heard them play 'Caffeine Bomb', but maybe it was in the second set. A 'rival pub'? The Assembly Rooms? I remember a load of people meeting up there when the Wildhearts played The Forum a few years ago... The Bull & Gate used to be a favourite and a few of us met up there before last year's Ginger Birthday Bash but I don't know if it is currently still open as a boozer?