30.6.13 - The Wildhearts @ Leeds 02 Academy Review

Sunday 30th June 2013 

The Wildhearts + Baby Godzilla, Eureka Machines @ Leeds O2 Academy

By Danielle Partis

It goes without saying, that I'd been looking forward to this gig for a long time. I've heard tale after tale about The Wildhearts from my close friend/gig buddy, and after missing out on the first and presumably only leg of the 'Earth Vs' tour, I was fairly gutted. When I became a fan, it was unheard of that the band would ever get together and tour again. As you can imagine, the addition of more dates blew my mind, and I bought myself a ticket faster than you can say "fuck the rent!" 

So, we arrived in Leeds, and a prompt pint at the local Wetherspoons was entirely necessary. Wildhearts, everywhere. No one spoke to each other, akin to British tradition, however there was an aura of excitement throughout. The only crowd I've ever experienced such companionship with, is Iron Maiden. Though The Wildhearts' fan base is such a close knit box of worms - it really does feel like one big family! We downed our dregs, and made our way to the academy, which was surprisingly empty at first. 

Have you ever seen Baby Godzilla? The question that roughly equates to 'Have you ever been hit by a fucking steam train?' as THAT, is how a Baby 'Zilla feels. The only show I've ever seen, where it's safer to be at the front of the crowd - at least then any vaults made by band members will go over your head! Baby Godzilla are a monstrous, unrelenting force, delivering a ferocious mash of hardcore and thrash like a suckerpunch to the brain. To be honest it's hard to focus on what the band are delivering musically when at least ONE of them is nearly ending himself at only one time. I'd hardly had time to stop watching guitarist/screamer Jonny race around the venue before vocalist Matt was lugging himself up the stage scaffolding. Their set was fairly short, but they definitely woke everyone the fuck up with that they delivered. You could argue that musically they aren't mind blowing, but that's not what they're there to do. I can't honestly say that I'd listen to The 'zilla on CD too often either, however they are an absolute joy/heart attack to watch live, they deliver a show more intense than Chris Hanson's stare, and I can guarantee that they will leave you speechless and/or fearing for your life. I SURVIVED BABY GODZILLA. Have you? 

Next up were monochrome monsters, Eureka Machines. Smashing the venue open again with their hit 'Champion The Underdog' Eureka sounded tighter than ever and looked happier than your friendly neighbourhood smackhead to be on such a huge stage. I've only ever seen them in mine (And Chris'!) hometown in a tiny venue, and although intimate gigs rule, it was certainly refreshing to see their super huge sound in an academy. They blasted through a plethora of both well known and not-so well known tracks, including 'These are The People That Live in My House', 'Pop Star', and a personal favourite 'I'm Wasting my Time (Yet Again)'. All performed to an impeccable standard I may add.  The thing I love about Eureka Machines, is that they don't even have to try. Their playing always seems so effortless, along with the pure pop rock energy they create that transcends from stage to crowd like the common cold. Obviously less gross and unwanted as the aforementioned. I also don't often find myself wanting to jump around and yell with a cold either.  Anyway, yeah, Eureka played a blinder in their usual flawless fashion, and outdid themselves by becoming a 5 piece. During the last song, stand in guitarist for Davros and all round lad Mike Politt joined the band for a one off rendition of their hit 'Zero Hero'. It was a lot of fun and sounded killer; though I think Eureka Machines work perfectly as a 4 piece as they are. There isn't a band on this Earth more suited to open for The Wildhearts. That, and the fact Mr Catalyst is Hull bred (No matter how much he denies it) and that Hullians aren't all in-breds and psychopaths. 

I wanted the barrier for the headliners. However my colleague and extremely lanky friend Shane got there before me. *curse words* I still had a good view and an area to bounce around in so I was pretty much set, asides being completely sober. There was enough sweat leaking out of men's pores to intoxicate me for a week regardless. So, The Wildhearts silently made their way on to the stage, and without a word launched straight in to the first track from their debut, 'Greetings From Shitsville'. My brain, as it does, switched in to 'lets find loads of things to pick at for the review' mode, but as the set went on, I got nothing. Even if they did sound awful, I bet I could count the people who would give a fuck on one hand. The band. There. These fans aren't here to see a flawless arrangement, they're here to jump around and lose their heads to a band that have inspired continuous generations and spear headed creative independence since their inception. 

The band played on through the original album, and as Ginger specified, NOT the re-release with Caffeine Bomb, which received a cheer but I have no idea why the absence of the song is a good thing. If anyone knows, feel as free as a pigeon to enlighten me. I particularly enjoyed jumping around to 'Everlone', and my second favourite Wildhearts song 'Loveshit'. It really is something else to hear a room full of people howling along to a song you love to death - I've said that before and I'll continue to say it until everyone has experienced such. 

Ginger managed to find the balance between ignorance and over doing it when interacting with the audience. To be honest, it didn't even feel like band-to-audience communication, it was more of an overly large social gathering. Ginger can and will say whatever the fuck he likes! They carried on with the album, all the way through until 'Love You Til I don't' never halting or losing pace, and I, along with the crowd bounced and yelled and had a jolly good motherfucking time. It did feel like the band were trying to get the album play through out of the way as quickly as they could - but after seeing what the second half had to offer, I could hardly blame them. As much as I enjoyed hearing a cracking album in it's entirety live, I was pretty damn pumped for voting time!

For those who were unaware, the second half of the set was a pretty genius routine, and not one I've ever experienced at any gig I've been to. The band implemented a voting system, with two random songs appearing on either side of the stage, and it was our job to choose which we wanted to hear with a usual 'loudest cheer wins'. The entire band were unaware of what would appear, so obviously knew some better than others. As well as the mega fun aspect of audience participation, it it ensured they played what a majority wanted to hear, and of course, your average drunk Wildhearts superfan will just howl at every song choice, and not his or her favourite from the two. I have to admit, I'm not the biggest WH fan, so I was weary and expectant of some obscurities, but excited for them nonetheless! It was hardly surprising that 'I Wanna Go Where The People Go'  popped up almost instantly, the annoying little ditty that it is. Though true to form, the vast majority were awesome and went with 'Nothing Ever Changes but the Shoes' instead. 

This routine went on, with the fans picking some absolute crackers, including 'Urge', 'Hate the World Day' and to my excitement, the infamous 'Caffeine Bomb'. I was particularly chuffed about hearing and bopping around to 'Bomb; it was the first Wildhearts song I heard after being introduced to them by my friend, and I fell in love with it after one half arsed listen. I thought it may be my behemoth love of coffee bonding the band and I. It wasn't.

It's because they're fucking ace.

And I'll fight anyone who says otherwise. *

* I won't fight anyone, I can't fight.

Moving on, The Wildhearts carried on playing a profusion of awesome, among them were 'Vanilla Radio' an all round favourite, and 'Red Light Green Light' which won a vote, but didn't get played at first because Ginger slipped up and played 'Weekend (5 Long Days)' instead. No one complained! 'Mazel Tov Cocktail' came out next, and I cheered without even waiting to see what the other choice would be. Wrong move. 'Geordie in Wonderland' which I fucking LOVE, came out, and to my surprise, won the vote. A definite highlight of the night was air grabbing like a lunatic and howling along to Geordie with my friend; it's such a uniting song to hear live and I'll admit like the lazy sod I am  - it was nice to have a break from dancing about! 

Just as we all sighed a sigh of melancholy that the show was coming to an end, Ginger received a request from a special fan - Lynn Vaughan. I wasn't anywhere near her but soon realised what was going on when Ginger carried us in to 'Dangerlust'. This pleased me, as the song had lost in the vote to Urge earlier in the set! Alas, after that, the final choice was between 'The Revolution Will Be Televised' and '29x The Pain'. I, along with the majority chose the latter and we all sang and danced and god knows what else until the very last note, knowing there wouldn't be an encore as Ginger had already pushed as much as he could in already. A saddening abrupt ending to a amazing show, but what can you do, eh? 

The crowd participation was just, something else tonight. For the most part of the second half, I had a very moist, yet fantastically bubbling individual next to me, he never let up, dancing and smiling throughout and making sure everybody around him was having as much fun as humanely possible. I later identified this radiating beam of happy as Jason Knight, and he seemed to make a lot of people's night! If I wore a hat, it would be taken off to fans like him.

All in all, The Wildhearts kicked arse. As I knew they would. A perfect evening from a band that have nothing left to prove to ANYONE, and if someone asked as much, they would just fuck off in the other direction. From the beginning, they've had an incredibly loyal, tight and familiar fan base, one that willonly be associated with an artist who can go so far, but still be as down to Earth and no nonsense as The Wildhearts themselves. The same goes out to Eureka Machines too; any band that shares biscuits during a show is a winner in my eyes. Their presence tonight just evoked pure happiness, and as a new fan, I urge (hurr) everyone who'd read this far to catch either of them whenever you can, whether it's the band themselves, or one of Ginger's many creative escapades. That man, and I quote, is guaranteed to put a smile upon the face of everyone, including me. And I hope he reads this, and unblocks me on Twitter. 

Make sure you also check out Trudi Knight's work, responsible for some amazing shots from the entire Earth Vs. tour! 


www.gingerwildheart.net - For all your Ginger needs. Don't be a dick, click it.