Tramshed, Cardiff, Mon 6 May
As the title of their new album suggests, The Wildhearts truly are The Renaissance Men. Drug issues, meddling record companies and a revolving door of members meant that the band haven’t received the recognition they deserve. Yet that doesn’t stop them belting out a set with all the same energy of their 90s heyday.
Genial Geordie frontman Ginger acknowledges they haven’t always had the most fruitful relationship with Cardiff, thanks to periods of indifference peppered amongst the popularity. They’re back with a vengeance now, though, and the swarming hardcore element at the front are lapping it up. There’s confidence in the new material, too: latest single and tonight’s opening song Dislocated ignites the crowd before a quick quartet of Everlone, Vanilla Radio, Suckerpunch and Sick Of Drugs maintains the breakneck speed.
One guy goes crowdsurfing with all the grace of a daddy longlegs. He’s thrown back in by security before immediately doing the same thing again. Another undignified splat over the barrier later, and he’s chucked out for good. There’s electricity in the air, but perhaps the smaller, sweatier confines of The Globe and its cauldron-like atmosphere may have suited the band even better. Nevertheless, the setlist caters for everyone, the lesser-known likes of The Revolution Will Be Televised and The Jackson Whites thrown in amongst hits like Top Of The World and Urge.
There’s prolonged singing of Don’t Worry ‘Bout Me in anticipation of the band emerging for the encore. Unfortunately, that track isn’t given the live treatment but in its place is something totally unexpected – a mimed version of The Renaissance Men, to be used as the promo video for their next single. It literally sucks the energy away, but the room takes it in the nature intended by providing some good crowd shots. The awkwardness isn’t lost on the band, not least Ginger who sheepishly says “Let’s get back to some live music,” and is soon a whirlwind of dreadlocks again.
The Wildhearts have never topped their 1993 debut album and with three-quarters of its recording lineup present, songs from it like Caffeine Bomb and My Baby Is A Headfuck pack the biggest punch. However, the final word is left to their best single I Wanna Go Where The People Go.
words NEIL COLLINS photos DALI POULSOM