Players: Ginger, vocals, guitar; CJ, guitar; Danny McCormack, bass; Ritch Battersby, drums; Frank Turner, guest vocals
Material: Over three decades into their career and, as far as output goes, Brit rockers the Wildhearts have never let their fans down. It’s been a wild ride for the rabid, loyal fanbase—one that has seen band members come and go in a savage blur of addiction and depression, and yet the music has remained remarkably consistent.
The 1993 debut full-lengther, Earth Vs. The Wildhearts, remains this writer’s all-time favorite album. Yet there’s barely been a bad moment over the nine studio albums (2019’s Renaissance Men is the most recent, but there’s another on the way), plus countless b-sides, EPs, live albums and compilations, not to mention the various side projects from the band members past and present. Frankly, newcomers to the Wildhearts have a mountain of amazing material to dig into.
For this livestream, the fans got to kinda sorta choose the set list, from a limited selection of songs. So we get old faves such as “TV Tan” and the eternally perfect “My Baby is a Headfuck” alongside songs from Renaissance Men like “Dislocated” and “Diagnosis.” Most exciting of all, they encore with a brand new song—the super-punky “Splitter.”
Musicianship: This livestream is the “classic” lineup of the band—the four members generally considered to be the ultimate Wildies and the best fit. Performing in an empty room after a year of nothingness, they could perhaps be forgiven for letting the normally standard levels drop a tad. But they don’t. These lads know each other inside out, and they sound great. “I like playing ‘Suckerpunch’ because it’s hard to fuck it up,” says Ginger. “Now watch me fuck it up.” He didn’t.
Performance: That empty room sucks some of the energy out of the performance, but not much. Some of the “call and response” moments in the songs are used to insert hilarity—silence greets the band and they still say thank-you to the fans at home, who are likely yelling at their screens. The four men banter, and those moments are priceless. Punky singer-songwriter Frank Turner joins the band for a riotous “Let Em Go” and “I Wanna Go Where the People Go,” and his obvious love for the band is charming.
Summary: A Wildhearts show, under normal circumstances, is an event. The fans sing loud and proud throughout (plus before and after), and the band gives its all. This wasn’t that. But it’s the best we can get, and it was pretty damned good.