Tuesday, 26 August 2014

17/12/2011 Ginger's Birthday Bash @ Islington Academy

SubjectGinger's Birthday Bash @ Islington Academy
DateCreated1/2/2012 5:15:00 PM

Saturday night finds me in Islington for a gig at the larger of the Academy venues. The show is billed as an early start with no support - there is an early curfew as there is a club after. Doors are supposed to be at 7.00 with Ginger & Co onstage at 7.30. I get there at 7.10 to find a massive queue right round the corner.
The queue isn't moving and the doors don't appear to be open.
I'm not about to waste valuable drinking time in a stationary queue so it's upstairs to the pub! I find several of my friends in there with the same idea. It's looking like if Ginger actually does go on at 7.30 he'll be playing to a largely empty venue...

Checking back around 7.30 finds the queue nearly gone so in we go. It's about another 20 minutes before the show actually starts. Got a reasonably priced pint or two down me in the pub so I give the outrageously priced and poor selection of drinks in the venue a miss.

I've been looking forward to this show for ages - so much so that my band even cancelled one of our own gigs for tonight as a couple of us wanted to go to this one badly enough. The now annual 'Ginger's Birthday Bash' has become something of a legend amongst WiLDHEARTS fans - an unmissable date on the calendar for many. In fact, the show is taking place in a much larger venue this year - and it still sold out many months ago. So great was the demand for tickets that Ginger organised a mini-tour around this date as well. Those dates are billed as 'Ginger & Friends' as they feature just a four piece band playing mainly Wildhearts songs. This gig however is different, and it starts off with something I think Ginger has only attempted once before - the acoustic(ish) Guitarmageddon.

Wielding guitars together we have Ginger, Rich Jones, Rich Rags, Tom Spencer, Jon Poole, Chris Catalyst, Hot Steve, Jase Edwards, Toshi, Scott Exit, and Dave McPherson. This lineup gives us 'Geordie In Wonderland', 'Nita Nitro', 'Sick Of Drugs', and 'Someone Who Won't Let Me Go'.

There are no support acts for this show, but at the other gigs on the tour Exit International and Hawkeyes (formerly Chickenhawk) have bee supporting. Ginger gets Exit International to join him for 'Junkenstein', 'Glory Horn' (one of theirs) and 'Whoa Shit, You Got Through'.

Then Hawkeyes join Ginger for 'Scorpieau', 'Meantime' (Helmet) and 'Suckerpunch'.

Then the 'Ginger & Friends' band take over for 'Inglorious', The Hardway', 'Caprice', 'Inner City Overture', 'Vernix', 'Slaughtered Authors', and 'Can't Do Right For Doing Wrong'.

As many of you will know, the set consists mainly of Wildhearts songs, some well known, some more obsure and rarely heard, and some never played live before. Pretty much something for any Wildhearts fan new or old.

This is the band which has been playing the rest of the tour: Ginger, Rich Jones, Jon Poole, Chris Catalyst, and Victoria on backing vox.

Jase Edwards joins the band for a terrific version of 'Drinking In The Daytime' - the epic from Ginger's first solo album.

Then things start to get confusing as more people come and go with each song, and the musicians on stage swap instruments. Willie Dowling get's added to the mix as does Denzel on drums. This lot give us 'Caffeine Bomb'. Chris Catalyst takes over bass and lead vocals for 'Anthem' - a song not heard for years and one of the highlights for me. A song which originally gave Danny McCormack his first crack at lead vocals and probably the influence to form his own band The Yo-Yo's after the Wildhearts split.

Givvi took over lead vox for 'So Into You' while Ginger played drums! The drum stool was also occupied for various songs by Jon Poole and Chris Catalyst - who all proved quite competent.

Then for 'Just In Lust' Ginger brought on a surprise guest - he has a habit at his Birthday gigs of bringing on people who we wouldn't expect to be Wildhearts fans - in previous years people from Snow Patrol and ex-members of the infamous Towers Of London. I don't catch this guy's name, and no one else seems to know who the singer is either, but it turns out to be Ryan Jarman from The Cribs - which still leaves most of us going "Who?"

Victoria takes lead vocals for a cover of the only good song The Osmonds ever did - 'Crazy Horses'. Ginger than announces that he had so much fun playing that song that he's going to do it again. And they do!

Then we get another guest vocalist who is far more rock 'n' roll - Texas Terri gives us a lively rendition of the Stooges classic 'Search & Destroy'.

By now Jimmy Ashurst has joined on bass and we get 'Mazel Tov Cocktail'

Jon Poole is back on drums and Toshi is on bass for 'Love You Til I Don't'. Then it's encore time and the place goes wild when C.J. appears and joins Ginger to play on stage together for the first time in a couple of years.

This goes down very well with the crowd! Especially as they then play 'T.V. Tan', 'Vanilla Radio' (also featuring Ginger's kids Jake & Jazzy) 'My Baby Is A Headfuck', and 'I Wanna Go Where The People Go'. This brings a fantastic show to a close - the only downer being that they are now past curfew time, and if Ginger hadn't on the spur of the moment decided to play 'Crazy Horses' twice then they would have had time for '29 x The Pain' as well. However, I know I'll be hearing it tomorrow anyway so...

And then, having successfully avoided the Academy bar for nearly three hours and not died of thirst it's back to the pub upstairs for another hour or so!

Most of the performers from the show turn up in the pub later as well, but there is no sign of Ginger. I later find out he has been his unpredictable self and headed off up Holloway Road to Big Red to party on.... 

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