The Wildhearts – York, The Fulford Arms – 11 December 2017 Print E-mail
Written by Ben Hughes and Neil Vary   
Thursday, 21 December 2017 04:40

The average hardcore Wildhearts fan has seen the band play live a bazillion times and they have seen Ginger perform acoustic gigs at least a handful of times I reckon. But how many have seen Ginger and CJ touring together, playing a set of Wildhearts songs each night? I’ll tell you how many... nada, nil,zilch... no one, as they have never bloody done it before!


Well, by the time you read this, all will have changed, as our two wildhearted sons are doing the thing nobody expected (most of all them) and are having a wee jaunt up and down our fair island doing an acoustic tour.


The Wildhearts


When a date at the very cosy and intimate Fulford Arms was announced, tickets were immediately purchased. Hell, so excited I was, I bought three! Lucky I did, it sold out shortly after.


So, following a weekend of snow and disruption, we gather en masse at The Fulford Arms. It’s the first time I have ever had to queue to get in here and considering the last gig I witnessed at this very same venue was attended by about 15 people (that included the two bands and the singer’s dad!), it’s a welcome relief to see a packed room by the time Howling Rev takes to the stage.


The Rev, he of Hey! Hello! And Towers Of London infamy, is here to warm us up (literally). Joined by his faithful tech Neil Hunter on second guitar, they run through a greatest hits of The Rev’s bands past and present. With Khol-smeared eyes, greased back hair and white skinny jeans and shirt stretched over his lanky frame, The Rev comes over like a 50’s throwback rocker stuck in Generation Terrorist land. The Lupus-Dei material makes me want to check out his latest band for sure, ‘Into The Fire’ has a certain Damned feel to it. And the upbeat ‘Dance Of The Skeletons’ and the emotive ‘Champions’ make me wonder what the hell happened to The Howling.


“How many of you remember the Towers Of London then?” quips The Rev as he tunes up. More than the two previous nights apparently. ‘I’m A Rat’ sounds awesome to be fair, as does ‘Perfect’ from the last Hey! Hello! album. They even chuck in a choice cover of Ramones classic ‘The KKK Took My Baby Away’. Great stuff.


The Wildhearts


The Wildhearts live at The Fulford Arms... let’s just take a moment to let that sink in. Two members of my all time favourite band playing the hits in a local pub. This is no MTV Unplugged set up, there are no stage props or cello players tonight. Just two guys, two guitars and a handful of anthemic songs that soundtrack the youth of most of the packed out room tonight.


Considering the duo don’t really dig acoustic gigs and weren’t too sure how this tour would pan out, they look pretty damn comfortable up there. With the tumultuous year Ginger has had, he actually looks happier and more relaxed than you could ever imagine. The between-song banter is comedy gold and it turns out they could well be the rock ‘n’ roll equivalent of the Chuckle Brothers up there.

But stand up ain’t their forte...rock ‘n’ roll is. Ok, so the set is predictably a greatest hits selection, but hell, we wouldn’t want it any other way would we?


Opener ‘Stormy In The North, Karma In The South’ has never been one of my favourite Wildhearts tracks, but it harks back to a very productive period for the band, as does the following ‘Chutzpah!’ one-two of ‘You Took The Sunshine From New York’ and ‘You Are Proof That Not All Women Are Insane’. Sublime, they both evoke the first of many a sing-a-long.


What follows is a good dose of ‘Earth Vs’ material including ‘Caffeine Bomb’, ‘Miles Away Girl’ and an amazing sounding ‘Shame On Me’. Obligatory awesomeness such as ‘Weekend (5 Long Days)’ and ‘Nothing Ever Changes But The Shoes’, all played acoustically, in the intimate surroundings of a local boozer, winner!


The Wildhearts


They don’t leave the stage after a killer ‘Love U Til I Don’t’ that would just be silly in here. But instead stay on for a killer ‘Mazel Tov Cocktail (a song must surely rank as a crowd favourite these days), an emotive ‘Geordie In Wonderland’ and the ever so predictable, but ever so fantastic set closer ‘29 X The Pain’.


If Carlsberg did acoustic gigs they’d get Ginger and CJ to do em! I’ve always loved the juxtaposition of Ginger and CJ’s vocals, its part of what makes The Wildhearts, well... The Wildhearts really. They just work so well together, and in this intimate setting, these songs sound bloody marvellous. Whether they are plugged in or plugged out, The Wildhearts always deliver a show to remember and tonight was no exception. We came, we sang and we left happy. For me, it seems quite fitting to end my gigging year as I began it - seeing The fuckin’ Wildhearts!


Predictions for 2018? Dreads are back, pork pie hats are cool and The Wildhearts will make the album of the year. Let’s do it all again in May, shall we?


  • The Wildhearts head back out on tour again in May, with Reef and Terrorvision, on the Brit Rock Must Be Destroyed tour. They also have been confirmed for the 2018 Steelhouse Festival, which takes place at Hafod-y-Dafal, outside Ebbw Vale, from 27 – 29 July.


PHOTO CREDIT: All photos © Neil Vary. Taken at The Brudenell Social Club, Leeds, on 13 December. You can view our full gallery of photographs HERE.


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