There’s a certain frustration to watching The Wildhearts. Not because of the band themselves, but because of what should have been. That blend of Metallica‘s riffs and Cheap Trick‘s hooks could have been the biggest thing to come out of the UK in the 90’s. Christ, I’ve lost count of the number of bands that have borrowed/stolen from them. And yet, record company uselessness and personal implosions meant that the best alternative rock band we have, never quite reached their potential.
Yet on a Sunday night in Glasgow, that doesn’t really matter. Twenty years after the release of P.H.U.Q. The Wildhearts are playing it in its entirety and of course, it’s great. You don’t me to tell you that, because it’s the fucking Wildhearts. They are just that good. They are still the coolest motherfuckers in any room and those songs are unbeatable. P.H.U.Q. is one of their strongest albums and unlike most shows of this style, there is nothing that even approaches filler. While the encore, which includes a goosebumps inducing cover of ‘Sunshine on Leith’ by Ginger, is a lovely little ride through the rest of their discography.
What’s really interesting though, is that it has now been confirmed that The Wildhearts discography will stay exactly how it is. While it’s no secret that you should never say never in this business, Ginger seems determined that as a recording output, The Wildhearts are over. Which is a damn shame, but on the other hand, is not really. They’ll still tour, and last night was probably the happiest I’ve ever seen them on stage, and most of the band are out doing other things. In fact, one of those projects opened up proceedings at the ABC and it summed up why the future is still bright, for Ginger in particular.
Hey! Hello! were one of Ginger’s pledge projects. A wonderfully twisted power pop outfit, their debut album is one of the best to have come out in recent years. However, since then they’ve had a line up change, with Victoria Liedtke stepping out and Hollis (from the wonderful Love Zombies) stepping up. While I was a fan of Victoria, this change seems to have taken the band from side project to main concern and in Glasgow (and I’m sure the other dates of this tour) Hey! Hello! showed that they are worth getting excited about.
Bursting onto the stage with ‘Black Valentine’, they are all hooks and energy. I’ve said it before when talking about Love Zombies, but Hollis is an incredible front-woman. Not only has she got a powerful voice, her performance on ‘Honour’ which was originally sung by Courtney Love being the highlight of a pretty flawless set, but she pretty much never stops moving. She bounces around the stage like she’s been snorting liquid sugar behind the curtain before hand and if there’s a single person in the audience that isn’t completely sold on her by the end of the first song, then I’m pretty sure they’re the ones that have something wrong with them.
Ginger himself takes a step back and lets Hollis rule proceeding, which is a smart choice, but his fingers are still all over this band. Along with the aforementioned ‘Honour’, we also get ‘Don’t Stop Loving the Music’ another track that originally appeared on GASS and one which will be on their second album, which is due out in December. While his acidic wit is all over songs like ‘Feral Days’ and ‘Swimwear’. These tracks are as good, if not better, than anything he has written before and if there’s any justice, they will end up being huge.
So yes, The Wildhearts are fading into the background and this P.H.U.Q. tour is more of an appreciation of days gone by, than it is a glance to the future. However, in Hey! Hello! the future seems very much alive and if they can keep up the high standards they have set with their debut album, then they can easily match everything The Wildhearts did and quite possibly surpass it.
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