I want to take you back to 1993, it turned out to be one of the craziest years of my life, twenty one years old and had been working for Leyland bus since September 1988, I took the crazy decision to take redundancy in June/July of 1993 basically from a good wage to nothing in a space of a few months, my redundancy money did not last long. In 1993 there was no Monsters of Rock at Donington but everyone headed down to see Metallica and Megadeth in Milton Keynes, I think it was a good year for music from what I remember.
In those days I followed intensely both Wolfsbane and The Almighty, I did not have all their records but when they were on tour I managed to go, The Almighty was playing in Manchester 18th of October I believe they brought some support bands that I did not know much about, my mates did not really want to come to the gig, but I dragged their sorry asses down to Manchester , Kerbdog was the opening band, and basically I think I have seen them a few times but they never rubbed me up the right way, another band entered the stage and started jumping around and shouting or so it seemed, I was too busy drinking beer to take any notice, standing at the back waiting for the Alfuckingmighty to come on stage and save our souls, sorry about the joke.
Then something happened that changed by life forever, the drummer started hitting ten tonnes of shit out of the drums and then the band exploded it a song that pricked by dirty ears up, the crowd was going nuts, I could not tell what the singer was chanting but it was one of those moments were you had to dash out and buy the record the next day. Which I didn’t I got someone to tape me the records from them and basically I forgot about them.
The thing is that song remained inside and when in 1994 I was pushed into buying the tickets for their concert, not one but two tickets, to see the Wildhearts on two different days in two different cities, I decided to listen to the tape more carefully, as soon as I started repeating the tape over and over again I realized that their album Earth vs the Wildhearts was a masterpiece. You could relate to every song, from being bored and penniless, to watching television that cannot entertain you, songs about love and twisted girlfriends , songs about drinking and the before mentioned song that pricked my ears up had a title, had rhythm and had coherent words it was a song I would play forever it was called Suckerpunch. The same year the maverick singer song / writer pushed out a new song for us to go wild too that was called Caffeine Bomb and was about waking up with a hangover and you had to find a desperate cure to stop your head from throbbing, just like Suckerpunch it was a fast rollercoaster ride of a song, it turned up on Top of the Pops and for the people who are not with the flow was horrified with the speed and bollocks this song threw out of the speakers, cue the two concerts that were perfect except their length , I was not the only who complained at the length of the concert, they left the stage when things were starting to warm up, but that my friends is The Wildhearts a brilliant band that kept frustrating you and imploded many a time.
I followed the band intently as you could without the internet, I was at Donington the same year and they headlined the second stage, turmoil ran through the group over the next few years, sacking band members, lots of music, lots of fights with record companies, they wrote great songs but never found the rewards they deserved, they imploded in 1997.
I want you to remember the 15 of June 1996, a dark day for Manchester a huge IRA bomb was detonated in the center, luckily no deaths but a lot of people injured and their lives changed forever. Shortly after AC/DC was in town just days after, I remember there were questions about whether they should shoot the cannons or not, but they did. I managed to get a ticket because a workmate could not go, I was working nights at the time and so a trip to Manchester was welcomed.
As I arrived in Manchester the huge extent of the blast was evident, the whole center was off limits but I saw windows shattered far away from the place of detonation, that was very eerie, very eerie to see a city center so quiet, so subdued it was shocking. The main reason I went to the concert was for the support band , yes the Wildhearts, at that time they had released many songs on Eps, on fan ordered material, the record companies did not promote them so basically they were fighting the world by themselves, yes it was Earth vs the Wildhearts, they had a whole lot of problems with a whole lot of people and that included themselves, in 1996 it seemed they were in a big dark hole with no escape, the songs were great but the public just did not care, they wanted commercial rock, carved songs from a choice piece of lamb, they did not like the in your face, hate the world day, type of music.
I was sat in a pub which was next to the old Boddingtons brewery having a pint before the gig started, I think I arrived early as you do, so I was getting giddy very quickly, that is when The Wildhearts walked in Danny , Rick and Ginger, they were looking very pissed off, dejected, penniless and did not seem the great band I worshiped, Red light Green light should have been in the charts but was faltering, the atmosphere in Manchester in general was grim but seeing your favourite band like this was shattering and heart-breaking. I tried to help I was short on cash so I couldn’t buy them around, so I ended up buying them a packet of cigarettes, but I messed that up too.
I tried to talk as we sat around the table but I could tell Ginger was miles away, and light years away from the rock n roll band I expected, next to me sat another lad who had the balls to ask what their band name was and what type of music they played, obviously irritating Ginger even more. Not to mention the two female types who was trying to get a backstage pass at all costs so it was a surreal , great, sad, tremendous moment. I was very far from the stage in the Manchester Arena I sang my heart out, I am glad there were no video phones back then because my drunken state would have ruined me! This was the last time I saw The Wildhearts, they broke up but got back together on numerous occasions since. Now I live in Italy and it was even harder to see this band perform live.
If you look at everything the Wildhearts were in those far gone days, they mirrored so much of our lives, especially us rockers, it was like an encyclopedia in music form, all those embarrassing questions you dared not ask your best friend , never mind your parents were all answered, reading the subjects of going from ecstasy to shear depression in a matter of seconds amplified the highs and lows of coming to terms with the watery existence we call life. Armed with some cigarettes and some watered down beer we came to terms with this world, some of us had bigger problems, maybe some of the fans might not all have made the treacherous journey to being an old rocker, but we fought together, cried together and basically vomited together.
It shows that no matter how manly you are, how many beers you can drink or how many women’s hearts you have broken, or how many tattoos you have managed to collect you are still human inside with the delicate and fragile mind fucking mood swings and the never-ending roundabouts, as we grew older together we found that the hoodoo and voodoo surrounding our deep dark repressed feelings were no longer off limits, it was ok to be anxious, you could call yourself bipolar because your favourite artist was not just fucked up but there was a serious medical condition involved, and if this artist suffers with his fans , through his postings, blogs and obviously his music then that brings the fans closer to the artist. We can share our darkest moments, the never ending demon of suicide , the always growing need to tell the whole world to go fuck itself, all alone in a room of friends, he sang it and we feel it, this is why I am so proud of the Wildhearts music, but not just them, Ginger has a huge list of groups he has gotten his teeth in to and has given birth to so many catchy songs he could repopulate China , I was pissed off in Manchester and Preston when The Wildhearts played for something like forty minutes but he is one of the few people I would fly back to the UK to watch in a gig. Obviously I can’t do it all the time, I wish I could because watching Ginger play is fucking amazing.
Ginger is not just amazing though all these years down the line, his fans, his followers have become his best friends, they fund his music, they make him smile and if you have ever seen his Facebook page it’s wondrous! Every so often Ginger turns up to stop a feud or something but in the end everyone goes home happy.
The Wildhearts in the end no matter how messed up they were, how messed up medically they were and drugged up they were, they have survived, some of the members change, but when you hear Ginger screaming my girlfriend is a headfuck there is not a finer moment in concert history , all those unwashed, scruffy, now going bald rockers screaming in unison HEADFUCK, HEADFUCK, HEADFUCK screaming that their life depends on it , mainly because it does, because all of that bullshit we have taken from the world, the bosses and the people in command, the never ending fight to stay alive, all the bullshit, but for one night nothing matters, because your boss, the government and those sick motherfucking scumbags who tried to split us apart, they call themselves terrorists and they will not stop us from going to a concert at the Bataclan or the Manchester Arena, or Rock am ring or any other huge concert, we have the right to rock, nobody has the right to take that away from us.