have been a hugely traumatic concert in Berlin with The Head Cat (Lemmy’s
rockabilly group), because afterwards Ginger
Wildheart said that he never wanted to play another acoustic set again in
his life. “There was me and a friend
on stage with acoustic guitars and thousands of Motörhead fans; to say it went down badly would be doing the nightmare an
extreme disservice,” he said. “It was f**king horrible. It will be the last
acoustic gig I’ll ever play. It just put me off playing acoustic...”
Ginger spoke those words in July 2012, but it seems time must have healed those wounds because in a promotional concert for the Wildhearts’ latest release, Renaissance Men (3 May 2019, Graphite Records) the lead singer and guitarist can be seen playing his acoustic again, probably his Tanglewood, on the tracks Fine Art of Deception and Little Flower.
It is great to hear new material from the Wildhearts, after almost 10 years away. And further good news is that this is the band’s classic line up, with CJ on guitar, Ritch Battersby on drums and Danny McCormack back on bass guitar.
Produced by Jim Pinder, Renaissance Men “finds The Wildhearts at their full creative tilt delivering hard-hitting, retooled classic rock with a modern twist. Bristling riffs and jagged, riotous hooks are their poison and the 10 songs are the perfect manifestation of the band’s immutable wit, charm, and righteous anger,” says their press release.
And their are few better examples of that than the lead track, Dislocated. This punk-influenced Motörhead-style barnstormer twists and turns like a snared snake, as Ginger belts out the chorus line: “I feel dislocated from your world”. This is one to crank the volume up to; and it is likely stay up for the following riotous number, Let ‘Em Go, which features a guest turn from Frank Turner. If you’ve ever felt let down by anyone you trusted, then the hook line of this track will surely have you singing along: “let the wankers find their own. If they’re not with you, you’re better off alone...”
Next up is the title track Renaissance Men that opens with a superb guitar riff, and a lyric that could serve as an introduction to the album as a whole: “We are the renaissance men, back in your face again.” Anyone who knows anything about the mental health problems Ginger has been through is likely to feel at least a moment of sentiment hearing that line. And it is difficult not to relate those tough personal experiences to two other songs on the album: Emergency (Fentanyl Babylon) and Diagnosis, with its acerbic lyrics: “We are not weak, you’re asleep at the wheel, The system is fucked and your treatment’s corrupting the deal”.
The blues-oriented track Fine Art Of Deception deals with one of life’s more beautiful moments when someone you love madly has gone, but you remain stuck in a fantasy world believing that things might just still work out. Ginger chants a number of statements like: “When you tell us that this is the one, when you tell your friends that you are moving on” or “When I say there’s nothing else on my mind…” while the band respond:“Bullshit!” to each one. You can practically hear the audience shouting along to it at the Wildhearts’ live gigs.
The pop-sounding retro-track Pilo Erection closes the album with another ridiculously catchy chorus that is again made to sing along to.
In fact practically every track is filled with both fine melodies and rampant energy, with a dollop of acidic lyricism on top.
This is an album that will surely be played on repeat; and this is a band that is perhaps in its sweetest moment to catch playing live.