Ginger Wildheart’s Halloween Hootenanny
Wolverhampton Slade Rooms
31st October 2014
Ginger being a firm favourite amongst Louder Than War’s writers and readers we jumped at the opportunity to cover his latest Halloween Hootenanny show in Wolverhampton.
For nigh on a decade now Ginger’s been having a Birthday bash in London, but earlier this year advice was given for Midlanders to keep Halloween free – early rumours suggested a ‘Mutation’ show, but what materialised was a six band extravaganza.
The community of the Geordie Grandmasters listees, forum members and Facebook groupies had descended on Wolverhampton early, many suitable attired for All Hallow’s Eve and several bearing the banner of GASS – Gingers monthly subscription service – the successor to his Pledge Campaigns and Singles Club designed to keep the music (and revenue) between him and the fans and keeping “The Industry”‘s grasping paws out of the middle.
Opening proceedings were two-piece Oaf, forever to be described in sentences containing ‘Metal Hammer Scribe Dom Lawson’, blasting through their brief but entertaining Lawnmower Deth meets Motorhead tunes, such as ‘Disgusted by your Genitalia’ and the closing ‘Fuck Off Seagull’. Perfect after a few pints and in measured doses, as all the bands were tonight.
Tropical Contact are the first of a triumvirate of Yorkshire representatives tonight, having followed their highly regarded live performances earlier in the year with the news that this would be their last gig, they promptly followed the ‘oh that’s a shame’ reaction by proceeding to go back on that decision and record a new album. Based on tonight’s performance, that was definitely the right choice. Dressed as graveyard ghouls, aside from lead singer Ben Janet who’s dressed as a leery, boozy Santa ( and abandoning his guitar for the night – usually they play with a 3 guitar line up ) . Opening the set with ‘The Wheel’ from their ‘Go Getters, Jet Setters, Heavy Petters’ EP, they win over the crowd with disarming ease, and as reward dispense toilet rolls and a large inflatable phallus into the audience. This isn’t a usual live staple, but for Halloween Hijinks, it works. They round off with a cover of ‘The Power of Love’ from Back to the Future, continuing the party atmosphere ahead of the anticipated return of Baby Chaos.
Back in the East/West days, Scotland’s Baby Chaos were label mates to The Wildhearts and supported them for their first time headlining the Wolverhampton Civic in the distant days of 1994. Victims of label shenanigans, both as Baby Chaos and their reincarnation as Deckard, the band had moved on into other, separate projects until being coaxed back together by Ginger for a Glasgow show 4 years ago. His respect for them evident by both The Wildhearts covering Baby Chaos on their ‘Stop Me If You’ve Heard This .. Vol.1’ album and by joining them on guitar tonight. Yet far from a nostalgia trip, a new album for 2015 is announced on-stage and two new songs are debuted, ‘When We were Youth’ calling to mind Manics Street Preachers and Ash of the era when Baby Chaos were very close to crashing the Brit Pop party. Assorted members of the other bands congregate on-stage for a kazoo chorus intro to ‘Hello’ before crashing out with the aforementioned ‘Rearrange You’ and the “Welcome Back” ring out.
The Scaramanga Six are back down to a 4-piece tonight, and due to the time constrictions have to abandon use of their keyboard, although there’s still spooky flourishes aplenty ‘Walking Through Houses’ and new song ‘Arabella’. They stick mainly to a tried and tested selection of rifftastic tracks from their ‘Songs of Prey’ album tonight, tailoring their set to the audience. A Blackout causes ‘Baggage’ to be nipped in the bud, but as soon as a faint hinterlight resumes they rip into ‘The Stepford Bands’, straying from their John Barry hue to a Stiff Little Fingers tinge with the duelling guitar intro. They make a lot of friends tonight.
Someone they’re already friends with are Wrath Records label-mates Eureka Machines – members of each having served time in the other. Eureka Machines have risen from being seen as a ‘day job’ for Chris Catalyst ( who also plies his trade in The Sisters of Mercy and Ginger’s band, amongst others ) to a leading light for independent rock in the UK, with winning performances at Sonisphere this year, and on Emmerdale. Eschewing their debut album this is a set of more recent and brand new tracks, including a cover of ‘Kids in America’ from the new EP to be released and a lead in to their latest Pledge campaign. They’re certainly playing to the converted here, and leave us with anticipation as to their activity in the new year.
Taking to the stage in a black ‘morph’ suit under a bright white suit, hat and shades, Ginger has come, seemingly as the invisible man this year, flanked by a returning Chris Catalyst and Jon Poole – both dressed aiming for Nosferatu but coming off a bit Devin Townsend – and new backing vocalist Kelli ( of Obsessive Compulsive ). ‘Lock for Rock’ from Ginger’s Hey Hello! project opens things in fine style snd the man himself in full of energy, humour and fine fettle as they proceed into a set ( Black Windows aside ) of tracks from his latest album ‘Albion’ and the GASS project, the latter received strongly by those who’ve bought in, but bemusing a few others. However, after such a stacked and ripe bill, the main event comes almost as a bonus so goodwill proceeds throughout. Guests are aplenty, including Micko Larkin from Courtney Love’s band, Rich Jones ( ex-Amen ), Oaf’s Dom Lawson and Givvi Flynn. Suitably bolstered, Sonic Shake is a literal blast from the past before finally a brace of lesser spotted Wildhearts epics ( ‘Do the Channel Bop’ and ‘Inglorious’ ) bring the bands, but not the night, to a close – members of the bands then DJ until 3am.
Verdict – same time next year – but we’ll definitely be hearing from all of these bands before then…
All words by Phil Walchester. This is Phil’s first piece of writing for Louder Than War.