Ginger/Willie Dowling - Cardiff, Clwb Ifor Bach - 2nd May 2011 Print E-mail
Written by Nev Brooks   
Wednesday, 11 May 2011 05:00

Ginger_PosterThis, I have to admit, is a gig that I have been looking forward to, in a venue that is one of my favourites for an intimate gig, not just because of the size but because of the atmosphere that can be generated by both the band and the crowd. Acoustically it's not that bad either and it's always reminded me of what the legendary TJ's in Newport used to be like way back in the day prior to it being extended.  


So picture the scene - partisan crowd, looking for something a bit special, Ginger stepping out from the shadows as a sideman with probably the hottest live gigging band out there and taking it back a couple of notches for, what it seems to me to be, a gig, no a tour for his enjoyment as much as the crowd's, maybe rekindling some passion, maybe struggling being a sideman and not the mainstay, whatever the reason, something that we should all be thankful for and enjoy for what it is.


But before that we have a set by Willie Dowling and his latest project Jackdaw 4 and, fair play, it was a belter, with guest vocalist Givvi Flynn, a powerhouse female singer helping out due to Willie's dose of man-flu, providing some fantastic blues, soul, even jazz inflections, and Mr Dowling coming over as a powerpop version of Elton John including the tantrums when the crowd weren't getting into it as much as they could have. But, with a set including the classics 'Sitting At Home' and 'The Genius Is Loose' from his Honeycrack days, the crowd were left more than happy.


On to the main event; intimate lighting - check; crazed family portrait as backdrop - check; everything a bit familiar, a group of friends playing to a group of friends. And awgingeracoustic240ay we go (or should that be Howay??) with Ginger wearing the corpse paint that he debuted on the recent Michael Monroe tour and getting his side men, Wolfsbane's Jase Edwards and former Wildheart Jon Poole to follow suit. The songs, stripped down to an acoustic format show just how talented a songwriter Ginger is and how powerful they can be with minimal fuss, and the classics kept coming, with 'So Into You' and 'Miles Away Girl' featuring snapshots of XTC's 'Making Plans For Nigel' and 'Summer Loving' (yep, the Grease track). Stand outs in the first set (yes rumours were right, they did play two with a short break between) were 'When She Comes', 'Understanding Jane', 'Mazel Tov Cocktail', 'The Drunken Lord Of Everything' and opener 'Geordie In Wonderland'. I think slipping the XTC track in takes you back to where the band's interests and heritage lies, and what Ginger is all about.


So onto the second half and Willie Dowling is back for the duration, with Givvi Flynn helping out on a cool version of Honeycrack's 'Animals' and the Clam Abuse classic 'Unlucky In Love', as they gift the loyal crowd '29 X The Pain', 'You Took The Sunshine From New York', and an incredible closing pairing of 'Loveshit' and 'I Wanna Go Where The People Go', but not before they hand the microphone over to Jase for a cheeky take on Wolfsbane's 'I Like It Hot'.


I get the feeling that Ginger needed this tour, to get back to his roots, have his mates around him and play his own stuff, pick the limelight back up, not sit in the background because, in fairness, he is the consummate showman, but sometimes the main event is bigger than any one individual, or I might just be talking bollocks??? Whatever, I was part of a very happy crowd leaving a cracking show.