The Wildhearts + Massive Wagons + Towers of London @ Electric Brixton, London

9th May 2019
Review: Ryan Whitwell
Photos: Gavin Lowrey (Edinburgh)

Three rocking acts would grace the stage at Electric Brixton tonight in the form of Towers of London, Massive Wagons and The Wildhearts. The mood was a good one, even before the first band started, with people steadily filtering into the venue to eventually pack it out.

Guitar trouble kept things quiet for a bit before Towers of London could start, but it gave singer Donny Tourette a chance to let us know where he’s from, which was just around the corner, funnily enough.

Once things got going we were treated to a couple of older numbers to start, kicking off with “I’m a Rat” from the 2004 debut “Blood, Sweat and Towers”, however, the newer stuff was what I personally enjoyed. “Get Yourself Outta Here” was a good example to suggest that although they are still a raucous punk rock band, they don’t rely on the teenage schoolboy humour as they did with early tracks like “Beaujolais” that they played just before.

The tone did take me back to those teenage years of American boner comedy movies, general stupidity, and carefree attitudes, but I liked that they’ve moved on from that vibe and are far more refined and, dare I say, a touch more professional whilst maintaining a rebellious spirit.

The rebellious edge was still present, with one of the guitarists ‘almost’ crowd surfing, and he probably would have if not tethered to his pedals and amp.

Last song, was of course, “Fuck it Up”, which I’m pretty sure is one of their biggest hits. I am a fan of the nonsense attitude with that proper vintage punk tone.

Massive Wagons have come a long way since I first saw them at a Camden Rocks event at the now closed Proud Camden (I think that was in 2015). Since then they have had consistent radio plays on the likes of Planet Rock, a very successful album that featured on plenty of end of year lists, and they’ve been on the road a lot too. Tonight they were main support for The Wildhearts.

Over the PA, Volbeat’s “Sad Man’s Tongue” blasted out before a quick spoken word intro. Then the band walked out to a packed Electric Brixton before blasting out “Dirty Little Secrets”

I loved the energy. Big, hard rocking riffs and the lead singer, Baz Mills, was incredible. I don’t know what he’s fuelled by, but after seeing him headbanging as much as possible, leaning out to fans, running from one end of the stage to the other, fist bumping and high fiving the front row, I’ll have what he’s having!

Tasty guitar solos from the flying V of Adam Thistlethwaite and his brother Alex offered plenty of drum fills where possible. I really enjoyed the set which was pretty much balls out rock and roll all the way through.

The crowd were well up for this now. By the time third number “Back to the Stack” (a song that was written and recorded in tribute to the late Rick Parfitt) the number of people getting into it had grown, with plenty of voices singing along to the chorus.

The tracks worked well with the crowd and they were a great choice of band to support tonight. Their classic rock vibe worked extremely well for another strong singalong chorus during “Hate Me”.

The song “Ratio” took me back to the first time I saw them. It’s one of their older numbers and it got the crowd jumping too. “Fee Fi Fo Fum” would be the closing number. There’s a rule in entertainment to “leave them wanting more”, and the fast-paced hard rock and roll did exactly that with the last number being as energy packed as the rest of the set. Off to the side of the stage, I spotted members of Towers of London jumping and raving along too!

After that support set, the mood was great. The room had a great party vibe going on, with myself and a couple of strangers cheering on the mic checking roadies! So it was no surprise that The Wildhearts got a great response as they walked on stage after the song “Don’t Worry ’bout Me” played over the PA. After that, there was an immediate pit for “Dislocated”, such was the hype that had built up in the room.

“Everlone” was next up, prompting more movement from the crowd as the tempo went up a step. Barely a pause for breath before “Vanilla Radio” was blasted at us, proof that they were not fucking about tonight. It’s a big-hitting, sing along, fist-pumping number that made the crowd go wild! The bass was pumping in Electric Brixton tonight, which seemed to go down well as Ritch Battersby’s drums got people moving and Danny McCormack’s bass filled the room.

Apparently, it’s traditional for CJs guitar to bugger up in London and tonight was no different as an effect pedal needed a new battery. But we got a good bit of banter from Ginger, involving a shout out to the other bands (and their merch, which you should buy right now!).

The breather seemed to work wonders as “Sick of Drugs” showed a renewed vigour down the front. It’s hard not to be infected by that energy. The whole band seemed to be having a blast. The feeling from the crowd was mutual as “The Revolution Will Be Televised” got one or two crowd surfers going. That crunchy riff of the next song “Top of the World” sounded great tonight too.

By this point, I realised there was no brake pedal installed on this setlist, yet somehow the crowd kept their hands raised and pit going for the duration of the set. The only slight slow down was before “Let ‘Em Go”. Ginger took a moment to ask the crowd to sing the chorus from this newer song, from their current album Renaissance Men (their first recorded album for about ten years), and the crowd did so with bells on! These are proper fans! But the brake pump broke as the full-throttle number got hands raised as well as voices.

It was a banging set all the way through. Every tempo shift, every solo, every prompt, the crowd were there ready, willing and able to join in. Right to the death, even during a pretty solid encore, there was still a pit, the odd crowd surfer and lots of voices. A testament to The Wildhearts’ fans: they know how to party and The Wildhearts know how to throw one.


The Wildhearts Setlist:

Dislocated
Everlone
Vanilla Radio
Suckerpunch
Sick of Drugs
The Revolution Will Be Televised
Top of the World
The Jackson Whites
Let ‘Em Go
Urge
Caffeine Bomb
Stormy in the North, Karma in the South
Diagnosis
Love U ’til I Don’t

Encore:

Don’t Worry ’bout Me
My Baby Is a Headfuck
Someone That Won’t Let Me Go
You Took the Sunshine from New York
Mazel Tov Cocktail
29 x the Pain
I Wanna Go Where the People Go

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