Sunday, 17 December 2017

17/12/2017 Ginger's Birthday Bash

Ginger's Birthday Bash is always one of the highlights of the year, and this was no exception! For 2017 the event is back to a smaller venue - which is a surprise after the same event proving capable of selling out the Kentish Town Forum previously. However, I find the show more enjoyable is this more intimate venue - which also gives a nice sense of Deja Vu as I remember being as Ginger's very first Birthday Bash at this very same venue in 2001. Although I have really enjoyed the shows at the Forum and other venues in the past, I really don't think The Garage can be beaten for intimacy - without being overly cramped and uncomfortable. It's got great transport links too, and is almost next door to a Wetherspoons - making it hard to beat in most respects.

It's been a very challenging year for Ginger on a personal level. He's had his ups and downs, and some of the downs have been very down. Fortunately things seem to be looking up for him and hopefully tonight will be a tonic for him. The show starts very early, but with no support acts there is a lot to cram into the show - with so many guest spots. I spot Alex Kane coming in the front door with a guitar on his back just after the show starts - so I already know who one of the guests will be, and have heard hints on who one or two of the others are...

Ginger opens the proceedings with a song from his latest solo release 'Ghost In The Tanglewood' his so- called 'Country' album of acoustic material. Emily Ewing joins Ginger on vocals. After starting with 'The Daylight Hotel' he treats us to a few more of his solo songs from various albums as more of the long procession of special guests take to the stage.
We are treated to some songs by Ginger's other recent projects G.A.S.S. and Hey! Hello! These go down a storm with the crowd in this packed venue. Cat Southall takes lead vocals for some songs - Ginger's fans have certainly taken her to their hearts after seeing her filling in the vocal slot in Hey! Hello! at live shows and she has tons of energy and personality. The rest of Hey! Hello! join Ginger on stage as well - The Rev on guitar, rhythm section Toshi and Ai, as well as Kelli Compulsive and Givvi Flynn on vocals.
After the show going 'electric' for a while there is an 'acoustic' interlude for a few cover songs with Maya McCourt on cello. Incuded are Tom Petty's 'Free Fallin' and 'American Girl' to pay tribute to the legendary songwriter we lost earlier in the year.
The energy level get's cranked up again when Jim Jones is brought on stage to sing AC/DC's 'Live Wire' in tribute to rock's best ever rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young who we also lost recently. The excitement is heightened even more by the arrival of AntiProduct frontman Alex Kane on guitar for this song! I know Alex is a huge AC/DC fan, as is Ginger - The Wildhearts even toured (very briefly!) with AC/DC back in the day. But that's another story.... Other guitar guests include Andy Brook from Shush (and Milena too I think) Rich Rags of Role Models, plus on vocals Tracie Hunter and Phoebe White of The Rebelles,  and Ray Zell from Marionette as well as Jason Knight rocking out on bass!
The 'Special guest' musicians are coming thick and fast by now, and Rachel Stamp's David Ryder Prangley arrives to sing a great version of the Silver Ginger 5 song 'Girls Are Better Than Boys'. Ginger swaps to bass guitar at one point for a few songs as there are so many amazing 6 string players doing guest spots.Then, just when you think the guitar energy level can't be cranked any higher - on strolls Bernie Torme! He rips through 'New Orleans' which he played in his time with Gillan. Then when you really think things can't get any hotter in the guitar stakes - on comes Dregen from Backyard Babies! Any more guitar pyrotechnics and the venue will surely spontaneously combust!
We get a tribute to another recently departed guitar legend with Chuck Berry's 'Johnny B. Goode', and also an incendiary 'Ace Of Spades' in tribute to the much missed Lemmy - who was a particular inspiration and personal influence to Ginger. I can't believe I have just seen Bernie Torme, Dregen, and Alex Kane all ripping it up together on the same stage at the same time! Guitar pyrotechnic Heaven!
Ginger, Dregen, Alex Kane, and Rich Battersby on drums then play a few Super$hit 666 songs - something nobody thought ever likely to happen as that band only recorded a single mini-album but never played any gigs. This night is turning out even more special than I expected! Needless to say, the atmosphere in this sold out venue is amazing - and it's just about to get even better. Yes - it's Wildhearts time! Ginger is joined by CJ as well as Rich Battersby, with Toshi filling in on bass. Also guesting on the set closing Wildhearts songs are Chris McCormack, Frank Turner, and Lauren Tate from Hands Off Gretel. 'My Baby Is A Headfuck', 'Sick Of Drugs', 'Caffeine Bomb', 'Suckerpunch', 'Greetings From Shitsville' and the inevitable fan favourite '29 x The Pain' round off the evening perfectly. Maybe the best Birthday Bash yet?

Let's hope 2018 is a better year for Ginger on a personal level - I think good things are on the way. And The Wildhearts are coming back!

My photos are crap - I didn't really bother as I wanted to enjoy the show instead. Messing about with my digicam was a pain and I didn't want to risk dropping my phone in the crowd (again) as it's already got a cracked screen. If you want to see some decent pictures of the show go and look at Trudi Knight's pictures 'cos she took loads and they are really good! My only decent quality picture is of my spare ticket - I found myself on the guestlist and couldn't find anyone who wanted a free ticket at short notice.
Same time next year then?

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