Strapping on a guitar almost as big as his wild-heart, Ginger strived to put the cherry on the cake at his annual pre-Xmas birthday bash back at a packed out Garage tonight.

With guest stars dashing about hither and thither for their cameo appearances, tonight’s entertainment definitely had the feel of a rock ‘n’ roll panto about it.

To get the revels under way, surprisingly with an acoustic set, Ginger was joined by first guest Emily Ewing on vocals. Concentrating on recent album Ghost in the Tanglewood they raced through a clutch of songs before the more raucous set that followed. Keli Compulsive and Givvi Flynn, who were joined by Toshi & Ai from Hey! Hello!, ran through some of the G.A.S.S. material together as a loud, bouncy, punky shout-athon ensued on tracks “The Last Day of Summer”, “Only Henry Rollins Can Save Us Now” and a heroic “The Pendine Incident” as the energy levels were raised a notch or three.

To follow, and with a spring in her heel oozing star quality from every pore under her full leather bodysuit, Cat Southall was easily the best of this initial set of the sweet dolly mixture singers. She totally grasped her moment in the spotlight to showcase a catchy pop/rock number, “One Day At A Time” from her forthcoming album, which had more hooks in it than a row of cranes.

Then an acoustic tribute to some of Ginger’s favourite artists who have passed away in 2017 slowed things down somewhat. Excellent accompaniment from cellist Maya McCourt added a touch of class to an otherwise run of the mill versions of Husker Du’s “The Girl Who Lives On Heaven Hill”, Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’/American Girl” and “Witchita Linesman” by Glenn Campbell. 

As the bar filled up, illuminated by a set of groovy dice shaped lights, Ginger then rolled his own musical dice with a touch of heavy cabaret when Andy Brook, Rags, Jamie Oliver, bassist Jason Knight and longtime collaborator Alex Kane shuffled onstage for a pulsing version of AC/DC’s “Livewire”, which went down a storm with his assembled fan base.

In fact, the introduction of Alex Kane, looking like an extra from the Rocky Horror Picture Show, brought the groove back to the stage with a top cover of The Partridge’s Family “I Think I Love You”. Kane thereafter remained at the centre of much of the night’s guitar action. 

As he entered from the side door, Sister Witch David Ryder-Prangley joined the throng for a tasty tease of Silver Ginger 5 classic “Girls Are Better Than Boys”, twinning up with Kane to look like a pair of camp ‘glimmer twins’. Maybe, there should be a band in the making between the pair of them on this evidence?

Another top cameo this time by Sweden’s very own Backyard Babies Dregen, with Ginger switching to bass, continued with a blistering “Ace Of Spades” and “Johnny B Goode”, both in homage to another two fallen legends. Ginger, Dregan, Alex Kane and Wildhearts drummer Rich Battersby then proceeded to play a cool run of Super$hit 666 songs

But the proper star turn of the night was reserved for a living guitar legend as Bernie Torme joined the party. An audible gasp from the audience confirmed his status as the ‘big name’ as he cranked up the quality to play paint stripping takes on “Star” and “New Orleans”, assisted by Prangley on vocals.

Not to be outdone, petite of frame but big of voice Lauren Tate, from Hands Off Gretel, brought her new two-toned hairstyle into the fray with a voice that could pierce triple glazing. Thereon, joined onstage by guitarist CJ for a right old raucous run of crowd loving Wildheart songs. 

To close the evening in proper fashion, Frank Turner guested on “Greetings From Shitsville” and “29x The Pain” which had everyone singing along to this birthday bash to remember.

Throughout the evening’s shenanigans, Ginger remained stoically in his corner his spiky dreads giving him the appearance of a rock ‘n’ roll Doric column as he solidly orchestrated the musical comings and goings. Hopefully, 2018 will prove to be a more positive and rewarding year for him than the one that is passing. I can’t think of anyone more deserving of a creatively balanced and focused 2018 than this Wildheart.

Words: Paul Davies / Photos: Eric Duvet

Ginger Wildheart
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Event Date: 17-Dec-2017

About The Author

I began my career in journalism at the now defunct, pre-digital Smash Hits magazine, which was situated in London's Carnaby Street. After learning the ropes, I washed up at Vox Magazine, essentially the NME'S monthly magazine, as the Internet arrived into our lives. Thereon, I eventually graduated onto Q Magazine when people still treasured the magazine that they bought. My journalistic career since has been on newspapers at The Times, The Independent/i newspaper, Daily & Sunday Express and, ofcourse, National Rock Review.

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