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Review: 'WILDHEART, GINGER (Birthday Bash)'
'London,Highbury Corner, The Garage, 17 December'   

-  Genre: 'Rock'

Our Rating:
Thankfully, Ginger Wildheart is still with us for another Birthday bash and he is far healthier than at last year's do as he isn't suffering from the Norovirus plaguing him last year.

I arrived as early as I could and joined the queue for the cloakroom as Ginger was kicking off the evening as Ghost In The Tanglewood, his country trio from what I could hear when the gig door opened. They sounded pretty good and by the time I got in and made my way to the bar Pay It Forward was almost done, so that The Words Are Gonna Have to Wait accompanied my first wait at the bar as the place was sold out and heaving as you'd expect.

Tanglewood left the stage as Ginger welcomed us all to this year's bash and welcomed to the stage his next backing band for the evening Keli, Givvi, Toshi and Ai for a bouncy pop punk set that began with The Pendine Incident. That had loads of people singing along to the Gas tune. The Last Day Of Summer saw (I think it was) Kelli and Givvi singing most of the vocals before Ginger told us all we were The Uninvited that featured Dave McPherson.

Then it was time for what was the first big singalong of the evening on Only Henry Rollins Can Save Us Now and with the trouble we are in it sounds rather too pertinent for words, so come on Henry, please save us. Ginger then brought on Siren to sing Adrenalina at an adrenaline-sapping pace.

The band then morphed into Hey! Hello! For the brash Loud & Fucking Clear that was good and bouncy and far better than the album version to my ears with Givvi well giving her all. Let's Get Emotional featured Eloise Kerry singing the main vocal with everyone else doing the backing vocals. It built well and came to a rampaging conclusion.

Perfect sounded closer to being perfect than on the album that wasn't to my taste and here stripped of all the toys it just sounds like a classic Ginger song. They then went all Eurovision cheese on Glass Of Champagne with Laila K singing vocals and wearing the same dress as last year as we all sang the chorus back at her. She kept the mic for a version of One day At A Time that sounded pretty cool as well. This bit of the show concluded with This Ain't Love; far bouncier than a song of that name should be.

Then all the musicians apart from Ginger left the stage and he was joined on Cello by Maya McCourt to pay tribute to some of this years departed. For Ginger to re-iterate how lucky he is to still be with us for another year as he paid tribute first to Grant Hart with a beautiful slow version of The Girl Who Lives In Heavens Hill. He then tipped his hat to Glen Campbell and Witchita Lineman as we can all see Ginger as A Linesman for Notts County. This section closed with a huge singalong to Free Fallin' that quickly went into American Girl.

Ginger then brought on The Knuckleheads who featured Jamie Oliver from the UK Subs on drums, Andy Brooks, Rags, Jason Knight and Alex Kane as well as The Rebelles as backing singers. They upped the voltage by paying tribute to Malcolm Young with a rip snorting version of Live Wire sung by Jim Jones at his full on screaming preacher best. Then an old friend of Ginger's. Ray Zell sang Aerosmith's Lick And A Promise that for me was one of the weaker moments in this night as Ray's vocals weren't quite up to it.

Then James Ryan came on for a quite brilliant version of Proud Mary that really worked well full on building from a quiet opening to a total sing along cacophonous ending. They then got Alex Kane to sing I Think I Love You so we could all remember David Cassidy.

Then Rags disappeared and on came David Ryder Prangley on Bass and vocals for Girls Are Better Than Boys that was a full on glam rampage and I now look forward to DRP's own birthday bash in the new year at Nambucca.

DRP stayed on bass as Bernie Torme came on to play Star which meant I've now seen Bernie playing with half of Rachel Stamp. Whatever, this was a great version with full-on backing singers and guitar mayhem that Bernie still brings. Then DRP and The Rebelles left and Ginger and Bernie played a slightly more stripped back version of New Orleans that was good and punky. I look forward to seeing Bernie's other guest appearance at the end of this week.

It was now time to switch bands again. Alex Kane stayed on and was joined on drums by Ritch Battersby and on Vocals and guitar by Dregen. This bit opened with You Smell Canadian and well Dregen looked more like he was from Hell's Kitchen in the 1930's but of course he didn't sound 1930's. They then took on the Michael Monroe song Superpowered Superfly, which Ginger wrote for the Monroes and Dregen was in the same band. It was a pretty speedy version a little bit grungier than Michael plays it.

They then went full on Marty McFly for a vamped up version of Johnny B Goode, which got everyone singing the chorus back at them. They then went full on punk metal for a tear up through The Ace of Spades that was a lot truer than the Bluegrass version I heard earlier in the week. This segment of the set ended with Star Wars Jr that seems fitting in the week the new Star Wars film is out.

Then changed bands one last time and Ginger and Paul Battersby stayed on. They were joined by CJ Wildheart and Chris McCormack and Toshi and they brought on Lauren Tate to help them fly through Suckerpunch at a fearsome pace. Chris then sang My Baby Is A Headfuck with Ginger doing the backing vocals and playing his bass like a real bad mofo.

Paul Gautrey then came on and moaned at how hard the lyrics were too Sick Of Drugs before they played it at about 1000mph it was a real whirlwind. Jay Butler joined them for Caffeine Bomb that was easily as speedy. Then the audience took over between songs and started singing Don't Worry About Me baby and the band sort of joined in!!

They then got a touch sentimental on Someone Won't Let Me go before bringing on one last special guest, Frank Turner, to sing Greetings From Shitsville and to close the night with a cool version of 29 x The Pain before Ginger thanked us all and said goodnight. Now I was expecting the place to go mental and get them back for an encore but after some polite applause that was it and this marathon was over.

Yet again a great night out and I hope I credited almost everyone involved as it really was the business.
  author: simonovitch

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