Monday, 15 September 2014

17/12/2013 Ginger's Birthday Bash @ Koko

Ginger's Birthday Bash is always one of the gig highlights of the year. It just seems to get bigger and better every year, and 2013 is no exception. After selling out The Forum last time, it's taking place at Koko this year. Unfortunately due a a signalling the trains whereI live are knackered. No trains for most of the day, then slowly getting back to normal. I resign myself to using the tube instead, but check the TFL Journey Planner website just before I leave for any updates as they are usually on there. It says it's now back to a normal service so off I set. Arriving at the station things appear otherwise - no train due at the advertised time, and the next one turns up twenty minutes late!

I end up missing the first half hour of the show - I'm well pissed off as I particularly wanted to see the opening part of the show. This was Ginger 'supporting' himself as part of the opening act Hey Hello! along with the lovely Victoria Liedtke - also featuring The Rev (The Howling & ex-Towers of London) on guitar and ex-AntiProduct man Toshi on bass at this show. This was the live debut of Hey Hello! and they played four songs from their excellent recent pop/punk debut album. Oh well, I'll have to wait until next year to see Hey Hello! when they support The Wildhearts on tour...

The show is in full swing by the time I get into the venue. The very catchy new song 'Body Parts' from the forthcoming Ginger Wildheart Band album 'Albion' get's it's first ever live airing - the band on stage at this point being basically the band playing on that album; Chris Catalyst (Eureka Machines/Sisters Of Mercy) and Rich Jones (Yo-Yo's/Loyalties/Amen/Black Halos) on guitars, Jon 'Random' Poole (Wildhearts/SG5/Cardiacs) on bass, Denzel on drums, and Victoria Liedtke on vox - plus the Birthday Boy himself on guitar/vox of course! A succession of Silver Ginger 5 and Wildhearts songs follow - it being particularly good to hear 'Do The Channel Bop' with the crowd supplying the finger-clicking intro. I don't make much of an effort to take pictures as I'm not likely to be getting near the front due to my late arrival and the venue being so packed - so I just enjoy the show with minimal distractions.
Once the many special guests start to appear they come thick and fast! There are far too many to mention (or remember) and I don't even know who some of them are, but they include: Jase Edwards from Wolfsbane on guitar, Sammy Andrews on backing vocals and ex-New York Loose frontgal Brijitte West taking lead vocals and guitar on a couple of songs - making a very welcome return to the stage and giving Ginger a break from vocal duties as he doesn't actually like singing and has been having some problems with his voice recently.
The guests continue to roll on and AntiProduct's Alex Kane makes a very popular appearance on guitar - no stranger to appearing with Ginger in the past as they toured and made an album together back in the day as the rather mental Clam Abuse. We get more Alex Kane as he and Ginger are then joined onstage by Starz - a band who have been a big favourite of Ginger's and now feature Alex Kane on guitar. They play their best known song 'Cherry Baby' with Ginger on bass and then tear into the Wildhearts classic 'Loveshit'.
The night is far from over the the guests continue to flow on - this is definitely the biggest and best Birthday Bash yet as far as special guests are concerned! There are some real surprises - including guitar legend Bernie Torme, ex-Marionette singer and Kerrang's Pandora Peroxide creator Ray Zell - dragged back on stage for the first time in twenty years! Not to mention Hanoi Rocks Sami Yaffa, 3 Colours Red guitarist Chris McCormack, Paul-Ronney Angel of The Urban Voodoo Machine, Frank Turner and more...

Things take on more of a punk turn when original Damned drummer Rat Scabies get's behind the drum kit and Ginger introduces someone as his old 'boss'. It's Beki Bondage of Vice Squad. After the original version of Vice Squad split up she formed a band called Ligotage, then Beki & The Bombshells - an early version of which featured a young guitarist called Ginger ex-of the Quireboys. They then blast through four classic Damned songs. This is a particular highlight for me as the first time I saw both The Damned and Vice Squad was together on the same bill at the Lyceum Ballroom!

Another guest appears in the form of Jim Jones for a rousing version of proto-punk band MC5's 'Kick Out The Jams'. Then a few other familiar 'guests' are introduced, and we realise The Wildhearts are on stage! After already hearing a few Wildhearts songs earlier, what better way to finish the evening than having the actual Wildhearts blast through five of their classics including '29xThe Pain' and ending on the brilliant 'I Wanna Go Where The People Go'. What a night! I think I've been to every one of Ginger's birthday gigs so far and they have all been amazing, but this was the best yet! Certainly some very unexpected guests and probably the odd hatchet buried. ;-) Just when you think these Birthday Bash shows can't get any better - they do. A special night indeed. See you all at the same time next year then....

For a more comprehensive list of all the guests, setlist, some much better pictures and better review go here. ;-)