Ginger Wildheart’s Birthday Bash @ The Forum, London

17th December 2014
Review By Matt Bubbles

Ginger Wildheart's Birthday Bash
The Poster for the Bash

Ginger Wildheart is a stalwart of the UK music scene. He has been for almost thirty years now, writing and recording hundreds of songs that show just how prolific he is, and how consistently brilliant.

Through ups and downs, he has continued inspiring thousands with his brand of pop/punk/metal/country/disco/soul/whatever-the-fuck-his-twisted-mind-thinks-up.

Six years ago, he decided that his birthday, the 17th December, should be celebrated with a few hundred friends, and the Birthday Bash has become a highlight of the gigging year, even the best gig of the year for the majority of attendees.

It’s always, without fail, complete chaos, a steady stream of Ginger’s mates turning up on stage with some pretty big surprises from legends on the music scene, and musicians whom Ginger has inspired and nurtured who are now his musical peers.

As ever, reviewing a show like this is difficult work, being that it is always a shambolic, glorious, yet relentlessly professional mess where anything can and usually does happen.

Ginger’s current core band, Jon Poole (bass), Chris Catalyst (Guitars), Denzel (Drums) and Kelli Compulsive (Vocals) turn up on stage and open with ‘Only Henry Rollins Can Save Us Now’ and ‘That’s a Nasty Habit you’ve got there’, from his (superb) ongoing GASS campaign.

The first guest of the night, Dave McPherson (InMe) appears for ‘Forget About It’, and, from that moment on, things just get more and more chaotic. We get Scott & Fudge from Exit_International on ‘Body Parts’ and David Ryder-Pearce (Rachel Stamp) doing lead vocals on ‘Girls Are Better Than Boys’.

One thing that was hard to miss at the start of the night was a second drumkit, next to Denzel’s, and the first guest drummer appears, Robin Guy (Rachel Stamp), and he and Denzel both, impressively, play drums together. Robin Guy is a great showman, throwing shapes with every beat, and keeping up with the insane powerhouse whippet that is Denzel. Drummers get switched around a lot tonight, with The Wildhearts’ Richie playing for much of the gig, and even Ginger plays drums for the first ever live performance of ‘Rats’ from Ginger’s bonkers ‘Mutation’ project, with Denzel playing guitar in front of a crowd for the first time in his life. ‘Rats’ also, starting a theme for the night, is the first of a number of songs that have never before been performed live, and one of the two songs from two different albums that have never had a single song played live before.

The other is ‘Country Boy’ from Howling Willie Cunt’s (although Ginger is super definitely not Howling Willie Cunt) ‘World Of Filth’, a superb country CD that flat-out aims to be as offensive as humanly possible. This song involves Jake Szufnarowski and ViX VoX from Fuzzbox on lead vocals, for a song that is an ode to the ancient art of cunnilingus. This marked the first ever time that I and a friend started a mass square dance, linking arms and spinning from person to person. It’s just that kind of gig.

The surprises keep coming – ‘BiPolar Baby’, with the magnificent Yolanda Quartey on vocals, and, the song that made my entire year to hear played live, ‘Couple Trouble’ from my personal favourite Ginger album, ‘Market Harbour’ with Lee Small on vocals (he sang the song on the album). A white man with the voice of Stevie Wonder, the whole crowd was doo-wopping our way through. Neither of these songs have ever been played live before, which made the night even more special.

By this point, I had screamed myself hoarse, and retreated to the back for a breather while the band and assorted guests (including esteemed Metal Hammer scribe, Dom Lawson) ripped through some of the heavier tracks in Ginger’s repertoire, including ‘Whoa Shit, You Got Through’ and ‘Suckerpunch’, before every guest, crew member and assorted friends joined Ginger on stage for ‘I Wanna Go Where The People Go’ in a delightfully shambolic and drunken performance, punctuated by confetti cannons and various people grabbing the mic and wishing Ginger a happy 50th birthday.

This is always the gig of the year. There are constant surprises, hundreds of wonderful fans, and the brilliant music that Ginger has been ceaselessly providing for decades, and where else can you get a three hour gig, with twenty-seven songs played and fourty-One members of bands as diverse as Oaf, Phantom Limb, Hanoi Rocks and Snow Patrol for twenty quid?

Nowhere. That’s where.

See you all in London for Ginger’s 51st birthday? I’ll be down the front!

Setlist –

Only Henry Rollins Can Save Us Now
That’s A Nasty Habit You’ve Got There
Forget About It
Body Parts
Girls Are Better Than Boys
Only Lonely
Country Boy
If You Find Yourself in London Town
Black Valentine
Couple Trouble
White Lies
My Baby Is a Headfuck
Nita Nitro
TV Tan
Sick of Drugs
Mazel Tov Cocktail
Give the Girl a Gun
Bipolar Baby
If Life Is Like a Lovebank I Want an Overdraft
Weekend (5 Long Days)
Woah Shit, You Got Through
29 x the Pain
I Wanna Go Where the People Go

Guest List/Performers –

Ginger Wildheart
Chris Catalyst (Eureka Machines, Ginger Wildheart Band, Sisters Of Mercy)
Denzel (Losers, Ginger Wildheart Band)
Jon Poole (Cardiacs, Lifesigns, Ginger Wildheart Band)
Kelli Compulsive (Obsessive Compulsive, Ginger Wildheart Band)
Dave McPherson (InMe)
Scott Lee Andrews (Exit_International)
Fudge (Exit_International)
David Ryder-Prangley (Rachel Stamp)
Robin Guy (Rachel Stamp)
Jase Edwards (Ginger Wildheart Band, Wolfsbane)
Givvi Flynn (Givvi)
Ritch Battersby (The Wildhearts)
Jake Szufnarowski (White Collar Crime, LLC)
ViX VoX (Fuzzbox)
Kavus Torabi (Knifworld, Cardiacs)
Micko Larkin (Courtney Love)
Saffron (Republica)
Ai (Hey! Hello!)
The Rev (Towers Of London, Hey! Hello!)
Lee Small
Jason Knight (Warner E Hodges)
Warner E Hodges (Jason And The Scorchers)
Paul Ronney Angel (Urban Voodoo Machine)
Rich Jones (The Loyalties, Michael Monroe Band, Ginger Wildheart Band)
Hollis J (Love Zombies)
Tom Spencer (The Yo-Yo’s, The Loyalties)
Rags (The Role Models)
Chris Gordon (Baby Chaos)
Jo Dog (The Dogs D’amour)
Sami Yaffa (Hanoi Rocks)
Nathan Connelly (Snow Patrol, Little Matador)
Beki Bondage (Vice Squad, Beki Bondage)
Paul Rooney (Vice Squad)
Stuart Higgins (Bagpipes)
Yolanda Quartey (Phantom Limb)
Dom Lawson (Oaf)
Toshi (Antiproduct)
Jett (UK Subs)
Darren Beale (The Boomtown Rats)
Chris McCormack (3 Colours Red)