Brit rockers The Wildhearts are back with their new album 21st Century Love Songs and an extensive UK tour to support its release, with dates heading into December. Tonight the band grace the stage at Leeds Stylus with support from Welsh rockers Those Damn Crows and mega-sized stage band The Middlenight Men.
The Middlenight Men is the brainchild of Nick Hughes, you may recognise him as the sometimes trumpet player for Terrorvision. Watching the ensemble ‘party-posse’ is like watching a round of The Generation Game, trying to recall all the performers and their instruments with four guitarists, one bass player, two backing singers, one saxophonist and one keyboards player. Making all the effort to look like a collective they strike out in force playing pop-rock single Rat Star. Not all heroes wear capes, sometimes they wear rather catching face makeup instead, as the motley-crew set their pace on the melodic swing-bopper Heroine Nights. Recorded in the confides of lockdown the happy clap along B.A Baby finally gets a release to a stage. A great fun band to get the crowd warmed up for their heroes The Wildhearts.
Main support from Those Damn Crows
Those Damn Crows have been steadily rising through up the ranks from the first time I saw them support The Quireboys some years ago back in 2018 to their last tour in 2019 when the band was promoting their new album Point Of No Return by handing out signed but empty album sleeves to the crowd. Tonight Crows’ fans travelled from as far as Glasgow to see their favourites perform their 30-minute set; bringing with them mascots and even a crow face mask.
Launching straight into the popular Who Did It, singer Shane Greenhall works his audience as they chant to the first of many sing-backs. It’s tight for the band with only a short space of time to sell themselves but the Bridgend, five-piece from South Wales pull out the classic Blink Of An Eye off their first album Murder and Motive mid-set they have the crowd right where they need them, onside and in unison.
With more ‘Whoa’s’ than Bon Jovi, Those Damn Crows give a big stage performance with Rock N Roll Aint Dead, its steady heavy rocking beat and anthemic verse ‘who says rock and roll’s dead’ lit up the room and was the perfect song to close with. Those Damn Crows have great stage prowess and an abundance of rocking tunes and tonight you got a great selection from their two albums. If you haven’t heard of them before may I suggest you go check them out!
Headliners The Wildhearts
It seems like yesterday The Wildhearts tore onto the Britrock scene with their cult-classic debut album Earth Vs The Wildhearts. Even a global pandemic was no match for this tour-de-force fronted by Ginger and formed some 32 years ago. Having recently released their 10th studio album 21st Century Love Songs at the beginning of September, the gang are back performing live.
The Wildhearts fans are an impressive bunch this evening. As the band take to the stage and rip out their ode to mental health song Diagnosis a very apt opener for what has been an enduring last two years, taken from their Renaissance Men album. It’s great the see the smile on Ginger’s face, vibing off the energy of their fans as they chant along.
And the fans are what keep a great band like The Wildhearts forging forward like a steam train, everyone needs to refuel and make a few pit stop’s along the way to keep the train rolling and what a beauty this well-oiled machine is tonight.
With a shorter than average set, it must be damn hard to find the right balance of classic, new and old songs to play. The chugging guitar riff of Vanilla Radio whirls you back in time to their 2003 album The Wildhearts Must Be Destroyed.
Back to the present and tonight, you get two new tracks off 21st Century Loves Songs Remember The Days and latest single – the gritty punk-edged Splitter, Ginger snarls the words Splitter like delivering a smack to the face, a drum-heavy number Rich Battersby, pounds his skins as his life depends on it.
Sending the crowd into a frenzy, you’d think Ginger had just offered them 50 quid each to surge forward for Caffeine Bomb! The atmosphere is electric on this traditional epitome which has become a staple to the Wildhearts set.
The infectious and bass-driven Jackson Whites from their 2009,!Chutzpah! album continues the mosh pit explosion as Danny McCormack drives the track along. Adding extra vocal and some serious shredding CJ brings the fire, just like one of his hot sauces – oomph!
PHUQ me, excuse the pun, Caprice (PHUQ album) has made a reappearance and it’s good to hear it back in the set. The warped distortion and melodic vocals slow down the crowd, only to rouse them up again with a crescendo of electric grinding guitars. Is this the last track of the night, something tells me this is not quite the end of their set?
And in time-honoured tradition, the crowd are on form tonight as they encore the band who has now gone off stage with interjections of ”Don’t worry about me” between cheers and claps as they proudly await their heroes The Wildhearts to return to the stage.
With a great big crowd cheer, the Wildhearts return to the stage for three more songs. Granted they could’ve played more but with the early finish thats all, they had time for folks. All-time fan favourite Sucker Punch brings another round of explosive enthusiasm from both the band and crowd alike.
The legendary riff of I Wanna Go Where The People Go fills the air and the song sum-ups up the last two years of missing live music ‘ just so long as there’s an atmosphere we’ll be round, round, round
Come on down, we all went down…‘
The Wildhearts never fail to bring out all the stops, and long may they continue!
The Wildhearts Setlist:
- Vanilla Radio
- Sick of the Drugs
- Remember These Days
- Caffeine Bomb!
- Jackson Whites
- Let Em Go
- Mazel Tov Cocktail
- Sucker Punch
- I Wanna Go Where The People Go
The Middlenight Men https://themiddlenightmen.com/
Those Damn Crows https://www.thosedamncrows.com/
The Wildhearts https://www.thewildhearts.com/
Remaining Wildhearts Tour Dates:
September 24 Fri Foundry, Sheffield 1, 6
25 Sat Engine Rooms, Southampton 1, 6
1 Fri Great British Alternative Festival, Skegness
2 Sat MK11, Milton Keynes
15 Fri Roadmender, Northampton
16 Sat Cornwall Rocks, Cornwall
17 Sun The Fleece, Bristol
4 Thu Hard Rock Hell, Great Yarmouth
5 Fri MMH Radio 10 Year Birthday Bash, Birmingham
11 Thu Hedworth Hall, South Shields
12 Fri Monsterfest, Inverness
10 Fri Brewery Arts, Kendal
11 Sat Georgian Theatre, Stockton-on-tees
12 Sun Asylum, Hull 8
13 Mon Sub 89, Reading 8
15 Thu Rock City, Nottingham 3, 8
September special guests
Those Damn Crows 1
Raging Speedhorn 2
The Middlenight Men 3
Beach Riot 4
James And The Coldgun 5
The Melbies 7
Tony Wright 9
To purchase tickets please go to: https://bnds.us/yysup1
The Wildhearts at Leeds Stylus on 18 September 2021, review and photos by Alex English