Saturday, 13 September 2014

17/12/2012 Ginger's Birthday Bash @ The Forum

SubjectGinger's Birthday Bash @ The Forum
DateCreated12/28/2012 8:24:00 AM

For many people this was promising to be one of the gigs of the year - and it didn't disappoint.

Ginger's now annual Birthday Bash has grown considerably in size over the last three years, from the 500 capacity Garage, through Islington Academy to now selling out the 2000 plus capacity Forum in Kentish Town. The man is obviously doing something right. Of course it didn't hurt that tonight's show is being headlined by The WiLDHEARTS, but most the tickets had already been sold when the headliners were announced and I'm sure the show would have still sold out without them.

And of course there is the remarkable success of Ginger's PledgeMusic campaign - breaking all previous records by achieving 100% in a matter of hours and then going on to pass 555% before Ginger chose to call a halt. The massive success of this project led to it winning Event Of The Year at this year's Classic Rock Awards. Oh, and the '100%' single CD general release version of this '555%' 3 CD (for pledgers only) set got into the UK album Top 40 - the mainstream chart not the much smaller selling 'Rock' one. - not bad for an unsigned artist huh?

I arrive at The Forum about 20 minutes after the doors were supposed to open to find the queue to get in still stretching right round to the back of the venue. 'Sod that' I thought and went next door to the Bull & Gate. Plenty of other people in the pub obviously thought the same way.

At least it meant I could sink a decent pint or two before heading into the venue as I'd already decided not to patronise their overpriced and poor quality bars if I could help it. I bumped into some friends in there and we departed from the pub a while later to find the queue outside The Forum was down to about five people. Not quite perfect timing as Ginger & Co had just launched into their first song. This turned out to be 'Just Another Song About Someone' from this year's '100%' album.

The setlist was much shorter than usual at a Ginger birthday gig at a mere 9 songs and included numbers from the recent '555%' album set, his post Wildhearts band Silver Ginger Five, and also some brand new stuff from Ginger's new PledgeMusic project Hey Hello - an experiment in more of a pop/rock direction.

The band includes Chris Catalyst (Eureka Machines/Sisters Of Mercy), Rich Jones (Amen/Black Halos/Yo-Yo's/Loyalties), Jon Poole (Cardiacs/Wildhearts), Denzel on drums, and Victoria Liedtke on backing vox. CJ from the Wildhearts also plays on a song or two. Instruments are swapped between various members of the band and at one point Ginger even ends up playing the drums!

This year's Birthday gig is much lighter on the special guests than usual, but we get quality instead of quantity with the unexpected but very welcome arrival of Alex Kane from AntiProduct for the only cover in the set - Cheap Trick's 'Surrender'. This song is quite an influence on the number which ends the set - Silver Ginger Five's 'Sonic Shake' which is always a massive crowd pleaser. Alex remains on stage to perform this song before taking off his guitar to stage dive - which has been a dangerous undertaking for him in the past, but this time the crowd actually catch him! Alex took a last minute flight from the USA at his own expense and Ginger didn't even know he was coming! I didn't take any pictures of Ginger and his band for reasons explained later, but someone else did and got loads of great ones - you can see the results here.

All too soon the first set is over and the tension starts to build...

The Wildhearts hit the stage with a bang and the place erupts! It's three years since the band have played and a lot of people thought we'd seen the last of them as Ginger seemed to have moved onto other things. Tonight they return with a bigger production than in the past - dry ice and confetti cannons blast into the air and for a moment you could believe you are at a Kiss show! OK, so nothing can compare with the experience of a Kiss show, but I'd far rather hear a setlist of Wildhearts classics instead and nothing beats the atmosphere they create with the crowd singing along at deafening volume!

The setlist consists of 21 songs (including encore) from across the band's career. They start at the beginning with 'Nothing Ever Changes But The Shoes' from the band's earliest days. The classic 'Earth Vs The Wildhearts' album is heavily featured throughout the set - an album regarded by fans as the band's 'Appetite For Destruction'. Surprisingly, nothing was featured from the band's self titled 'White' abum, and there were only a couple of songs from 'P.H.U.Q.' but otherwise every album was represented. There were also plenty of rarities and B-sides in the setlist - this band being well known for having B-sides better than most band's A-sides.

Click here for a full setlist as well as some quality pictures from Trudi Knight.

I didn't bother taking any pictures of the Wildhearts myself for a couple of reasons: It was made known beforehand that the show was being videoed for future release and they didn't really want the shots to be filled with people holding digicams/phones over their head and flashes going off everywhere.

Unless I was at the front there wasn't much point as my pictures would have been shit anyway, but as regular readers know that doesn't usually stop me!

Also, I knew that there would be someone at the front doing a far more professional job than I could ever do - you can see some of the results here - there's loads of them!.

There were one or two surprises: A Cardiacs cover, along with Jason & The Scorchers 'White Lies' featuring that band's Warner E. Hodges on guitar. Former Wildhearts and Plan A guitarist Jef Streatfield joined Warner for the ever popular 'My Baby Is A Headfuck'. Ginger's son Jake joined the band onstage to play guitar on 'Vanilla Radio' and also help sing Happy Birthday and present Ginger with a specially made Smileybones birthday cake - see setlist/pics link above.

The show ended with the massive crowd pleaser 'I Wanna Go Where The People Go' and everyone went home happy. It was great to bump into so many friends - unfortunately there were a lot of other friends who I knew were also at the gig that I never managed to meet up with in the crowds and chaos.

A bit later I found myself upstairs at the aftershow, where I took my only picture of the night.

The cake seen onstage earlier now looking a little the worse for wear - it tasted very nice though! Ginger said when he was presented with the cake earlier that the white teeth were actually rocks of crack! It's probably just as well that turned out not to be true.

Unlike many band's aftershow parties, the whole band(s) actually turned up at this one - apart from Warner E. Hodges who had to rush off early due to other commitments. It was a nice end to a most excellent night, and I even got a lift home in the small hours from some very good friends.

And don't think you have seen the last of the Wildhearts either... 

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