30 October 2004: Ginger + The Rockitts – Junktion 7, Nottingham, England, UK

30 October 2004: Ginger + The Rockitts - Junktion 7, Nottingham, England, UK

This was the first time at Junktion-7 for me, which was a very welcome change of scenery and bar service. Downstairs, the venue appears to be a reasonably normal pub for punters on the alternative side of the spectrum but it’s upstairs where the magic happens. In truth, it’s nothing more than a dark little room with a low ceiling but when it’s full and the glitter balls are spinning constantly with some music playing it ends up being a cosy little venue.

First on stage were a couple of blokes who may or may not have been The Rockitts. They played their stuff competently enough but never really set my world alight. Some of their songs showed their influences a little too blatantly for my liking, so much so that I found myself singing the words to ‘God Save the Queen’ and ‘Rat Trap’ when I heard the first few bars of a couple of songs, only to be disappointed when they turned out to be ‘original’ tunes penned by the band. All in all, not enough to keep me away from the downstairs bar for too long. At this point I think I may have missed another support band but there you go.

Ginger, Random Jon (bass) and Hot Steve (guitar) eventually came on stage to begin with a tribute to the late John Peel; ‘Teenage Kicks’ – what else could it have been? This was a great opener and set the tone for the night in terms of being something slightly different to normal. It was followed by a rare performance of ‘Show a Little Emotion’ which I believe is off the TV-Tan EP.

The crowd didn’t seem to get going too much which surprised me as I would’ve thought the venue was perfect for an acoustic-Ginger mosh-pit. This was no fault of Ginger and co. because they played with all their usual gusto and style, but maybe it was more to do the make-up of the audience. Looking at some of the faces in there I would be surprised if they were out of primary school when The Wildhearts released their first few records so maybe they weren’t familiar with the songs.

Many of the usual Ginger/Wildhearts tracks followed, namely ‘News of the World’, ‘Sky Babies’, ‘Jonesing for Jones’, ‘I’m a Lover not a Fighter’, ‘Inside Out’, ‘Geordie in Wonderland’, and ‘So Into You’. However, there were also many other songs that I had either never heard live before or were certainly rarities; ‘Just in Lust’, ‘Weekend’ (love that one), ‘Loveshit’, ‘Sick of Drugs’, ‘Get your Groove on’, and ‘There’s only one Hell’.

Part-way through the set, Random Jon appeared to take a piss into a pint pot, much to the amusement/disgust of the people near the front of the stage. I say “appeared to” because I didn’t feel inclined to force my way into a position where I could get a better view of proceedings, preferring to maintain my old-fart position near the back instead. Jon then persuaded one of his mates – I assume – to drink the pint which was a bit of a stomach-churner for everyone watching, judging from the groans. I just hope Jon did a bit of the old Paul Daniels and cunningly switched the pint with a lager-filled one when nobody was looking.

They finished with ‘Caffeine Bomb’ (I have no idea how that song works on acoustic guitars but it most certainly does) and ‘I wanna go where the people go’ which made a suitably odd ending to the show, seeing as it is normally the opener. It was another quality show from Ginger which is just what I have come to expect from such an old pro, meant in the kindest way of course.

I must also mention Ginger coming back on stage to sign autographs after the show which I thought was a nice touch. After some initial reluctance to act like a stereotypical teenage fan, I walked up to the great man and handed over my piece of paper for Ginger to make his mark. My shriek to turn the piece of paper over before his pen touched it was heard, thank god, sparing me a minor heart attack. He must have been a little intrigued as to what I was being so protective over on the other side because after making his mark he had a quick look; it was a picture of my little kiddie.

It was great to see him grin, turn the photo back over once more and add a little kiss underneath his signature. How nice is that?

@Jimbob247247

The Wildhearts Strikeback – The Wildhearts (released 25 October 2004)

The Wildhearts Strikeback

No, this isn’t a live music review in the traditional sense but it is a review of live music on a CD and therefore worthy of mention, in my opinion. The fact it’s by the world’s greatest band, The Wildhearts, is sheer coincidence. Honest.

When I heard that The Wildhearts were releasing a live record I was chuffed to bits because after attending their gigs for over 10 years I was dying to have a bona-fide, official memento of their superb performances. Perhaps it’s because my hopes were so high that it inevitably failed to live up to expectations.

Firstly, I should say that the track-listing is spot on – the usual blend of old, new, well-known and less well-known – mixing up songs from a couple of different shows and the fact it is a double-CD is a bonus. However, what was missing for me was the energy and enthusiasm of the live shows. Yes, it is hard, or even impossible, to portray this on record but even so I feel it is a huge dis-service to the band that their shows are left to sound this ordinary on record. Over the past 10 years I have never been to a Wildhearts show that has left me thinking anything other than, “Wow! That was fantastic!”. This CD, on the other hand, just left me thinking, “Yeah, not bad. What’s for tea?”

In the flesh the gigs are always full-on affairs with an almost Spector-like wall of sound and a crowd that roars it’s appreciation at the end of every song. On record the crowd noise merely sounds like a token gesture (which it wasn’t – I was there) and I’m unable to hear that wall of sound, even with my stereo turned up to 11. I don’t particularly want to hear minutes and minutes of pre-pubescent screaming but a little bit of madness between songs is surely a fair and accurate reflection.

An obvious reaction to these comments is, “But you’re probably a bit tipsy at the gigs, that’s why it sounds better and you have a great time.”

Yes, that may be true but in my defence I have heard other bands’ live albums in the past which I thought did do them justice. So maybe it’s all to do with the production on this Wildhearts one?

I don’t know what the answer is but having said all that, I would still recommend this album to any Wildhearts fan. They ARE the greatest band the world has seen for many years and all of their records are worthy of a place in any discerning collection.

[As an afterthought, I would also recommend – unreservedly – Ginger’s live acoustic record, Great White Monkey, because that is a top, top record and for me does manage to capture the feeling of his superb solo ( – with Hot Steve and Random Jon) shows. Unfortunately, it’s only available to buy at these shows or perhaps off e-bay.]

@Jimbob247247

25 October 2004: Sarah McLachlan + Butterfly Boucher – Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham, England, UK

25 October 2004: Sarah McLachlan + Butterfly Boucher - Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham, England, UK

Sarah McLachlan is big, and I mean big, in North America. She is responsible for the Lillith Fair tours which have brought together some of the finest female singer songwriters in the world together in one show, but this as far as I am aware is the first time she has been seen live in the UK. This does not mean that she doesn’t have a sizeable following over here, getting tickets for this gig wasn’t too difficult although we did end up sitting right up in the gods (those of you familiar with the concert hall will know what I mean and those of you not, well it’s a bloody long way up!)

As I said Sarah has a reputation for promoting female artists so it was no surprise to find that the support for the evening was an Australian female singer songwriter called Butterfly Boucher. The lone Miss Boucher took to the stage, guitar in hand and proceeded to flaunt her talent for lyrical magic. The tracks came thick and fast as is usually the case with support acts but there was still a little time for a bit of chat with the audience, which included an offer to sign copies of her CD during the interval (this worked a bit too well as the cue for autographs was huge and she must have had an aching wrist after signing that lot. I alas was so far back that by the time Sarah McLachlan came on I still hadn’t reached the front, never mind I got a unsigned copy after the gig.) Having never heard any of her music before I can say that I really enjoyed the set. Having now bought the disc I can tell you that my favourite track are “Life is Short” and “Another White dash”, but the whole album is superb and well worth the price.

I did however know what to expect from Sarah McLachlan. My partner Lisa is quite a big fan and although my personal taste tends towards the heavier rock category I have to admit to really liking her music. The Concert Hall is not the best venue for gigs, it’s a bit too formal and so generally lacks a bit of atmosphere but this did not put a damper on the evening. The songs were delivered with exceptional skill and variety, it’s always nice to hear a track you know done really well live in fact I think my favourite Sarah McLachlan album is the live “Mirrorball” and my favourite track is “Building a Mystery” so when she played that track I found myself screaming out loud with all the girlies. It was great.

Because this was the first UK tour I don’t think she knew what to expect, how would the crowd react? Would they sing along? And so the set was pretty much a greatest hits with a bit of new stuff. Hopefully we didn’t let her down she certainly gave us a night to remember. Other highlights from the set (apart from “building a mystery”, it’s such a great track it’s worth a second mention) were “Sweet Surrender”, “Ice Cream”, “Good Enough”, Circle” well I could really list them all (If I knew what they were all called). I just hope that it’s not another 16 years before we see her in the UK again.

Cheers.

Simon

21 October 2004: The 22-20s + Willy Mason – Rescue Rooms, Nottingham, England, UK

21 October 2004: The 22-20s + Willy Mason - Rescue Rooms, Nottingham, England, UK

This was to be my first gig at the rescue rooms, a fairly new venue in Nottingham, so the first priority was to find the place. This didn’t prove too taxing however and we were in plenty of time to get a beer and get ready for the support. The venue is quite a small place but the stage is well positioned and a 6 footer like me had no problem seeing what was going on, however as I had the pleasure of accompanying three ladies all who are under 5 ft 2 they could see bugger all, but I guess if your that size you get used to it.

The first to take the stage was Willy Mason, a 19 year old lad from Massachusetts, his style of acoustic guitar had an obvious country/blues influence and his vocal style reminded me of Leonard Cohen, although his songs were not as dark. There was a good mix tracks with some interesting lyrics (the one about the NYPD was particularly good), and after about half an hour he left the stage leaving me wanting to hear more CD’s are available from the gigs and via the web.

Next up was Cathy Davey. a Dublin lass who is creating a bit of a stir. The set was taken from the new album Something Ilk. The vocal style was very reminiscent to Edie Brickell and the music was surprisingly powerful (I say surprisingly because the album is more laid back) I think I prefer the live feel, just a bit more energy.

The 22-20’s hail from Lincoln and have been receiving a lot of attention from BBC 6 music, the new album 22-20’s went straight to number one on the 6 music chart and having only heard a couple of tracks I thought them worth going to see. The set as expected was pretty much the whole of the album, tracks included Such a fool, I’m the one, Hold on, Shoot your gun (Lisa’s particular favourite), Devil in me, I assume that they played the forthcoming single 22 Days but I can/t remember hearing it (for some reason the sound which I have to say had been superb all night definitely took a bit of a dip during the set.). If you haven’t heard them and you like bluesy guitar rock then I’d recommend them.

I think the best part of the evening was the quality and musicianship of all the performers, and the variety of styles on show, I thoroughly enjoyed myself and will be adding three more CD’s to my collection.

Cheers.

Simon