(picture shamelessly stolen from glasswerk.co.uk)
The Shepherd’s Bush Empire is utterly packed as the support bands finish and everyone eagerly anticipates the main act. As is a bit of a fad nowadays, The Wildhearts start their set by playing the entirety of their new album in full. Often this would be considered a risky move – after all, who goes to see a band who have been around for nigh on twenty years just to hear the songs they’re least familiar with? But when the material is as strong as that of Chutzpah!, their newest release, it’s more than a welcome addition to the set. As the band blaze through ‘The Jackson Whites’ and the familiar banner of the Smiley-Bones logo gazes on the crowd, everyone is utterly enamoured by what they’re witnessing. This is a band truly on top form, excited to be on the stage and doing more than just merely going through the motions. The new material comes off great in a live setting, although is almost slightly too dependent on a variety of backing tracks in order to accurately recreate the studio recordings. Not the longest of albums, the band speed through Chutzpah! in what seems like no time at all, leaving, as iconic front-man Ginger quips, more time for the classics.
Every gig of this tour was unique in that the band were unaware of what classics they were going to play in the second half until they were handed a set list midway through the night. Ginger cheekily remarks that we’re in for a treat as he peruses the stellar list he’s just been handed before calmly beginning the distinctive arpeggiated chords of ‘Nothing Ever Changes But The Shoes’. At those few beginning notes, the crowd absolutely explodes and quite rightly. From there, we are treated to such classics as homage to rock ’29 X The Pain’, the confessional ‘Sick Of Drugs’ and the hilariously punk ‘Caffeine Bomb’ amongst various others. As is standard for The Wildhearts, the songs are interrupted with some light-hearted banter from the band and, for some reason, a few repeated versions of the ‘Little Einsteins’ cartoon theme (don’t ask). As the night draws to an end, the crowd completely scream the roof off with set finisher and Wildhearts classic ‘I Wanna Go Where The People Go’. Unfortunately the gig is over almost as quickly as it had begun.
Two decades in to their career, The Wildhearts clearly still know how to deliver the goods live. Every note is played with as much conviction as if they still had something to prove, giving most bands half their age a run for their money and giving the crowd what they want – rock and roll with balls.