Rock City is a place of legend, seeming to strive where other venues are failing. Much like the London Borderline everyone has played here, and, as Mikko from VHB told me earlier this evening, ‘there is no such thing as a bad show at Rock City’
Hey! Hello! Are tonight’s openers, and they really should rename themselves The Victoria Liedtke Experience as, unlike her stints in The Ginger Wildheart Band, this show is hers. A natural front woman who has finally been given her time to shine, she does like a burning star powerful enough to burn out your retinas. Given that they have only released one album you can only expect so much from their set with minimal surprises, but anyone who’s heard the album (if you haven’t heard it shame on you) will be aware that this band has a lot of energy and a great vibe. I remember someone once said that listening to H!H! was like having sunshine injected into your veins, and I’d say that was a fair analogy. Ginger is present, naturally, but almost fades into the background, just becoming another member of Victoria’s backing band, until ‘How I Survived The Punk Wars’ kicks in and Ginger spills out his inner monologue. Ginger has openly admitted that the future of H!H! Is uncertain, but, like many here tonight, I can only pray he makes us all happy and makes a 2nd album.
Apart from a little peek online, I’ve very little experience of Finland’s finest, The Von Hertzen Brothers, and frankly I’m not sure what to expect. They are the wildcard of the night, being a lot more hard rock than the punk sensibilities of tonight’s headliners, and there are hints of alternative and prog as well.
It’s clear as day that a lot of the audience like me are not familiar with this group but that does not stop this Finnish 5 piece giving a set worthy of a headliner. During their set they are enthusiastic and natural showmen, though the UK following for these guys has only really bloomed in the last year or so. You shouldn’t forget these guys have done 5 albums, and that’s a career in itself. In between songs Mikko and his siblings are humble, understated, and smiles rarely leave their faces. Among the huge rock numbers tonight they play their recent award winning single ‘Flowers and Rust’, and if you aren’t moved by that voice then you must be made of stone. Apparently they are considering a UK headline tour in the next year and I’ll be there, down the front, giving them everything I’ve got like they gave us tonight.
It’s been 6 or 7 years since I saw this line-up of the Wildhearts, and, among many, ecstatic to see the return of Scott Sorry taking part in this greatest hits tour. There had apparently been a bit of backlash on the initial setlists of this tour, but these have all been ironed out now as they literally hammer out favourite after favourite. These guys have been doing this for over 20 years, but you’d be fooled as they have the energy and vigour of a band in their 20’s, dancing around the stage and playing off the crowds. With a set list spanning their entire career there is genuinely something for everyone and they flow effortlessly into each other. It isn’t a WH show without a sing along and this is really is the WH trademark that, even in outrageous stompers like ‘Suckerpunch’, there will always be a point where the entire audience will literally sing the chorus back to Ginger and Co. Naturally, with the return of ‘Sorry’, many folks are hoping for a song of his and they deliver with ‘The Only One’ which gets a roar of a cheer.
With the early curfew at Rock City, tonight was a bit like a rollercoaster. There were minimal breathers between bands, and everybody – and I mean everybody – brought their A game. Any one of these bands could have been headlining these shows so to get 3 bands of this quality in one gig is exceptional.
‘There is no such thing as a bad show at Rock City’ is what I was told. I’m more than inclined to believe that after the gig tonight.
Nothing Ever Changes But The Shoes
Sick Of Drugs
Someone That Wont Let Me Go
The Revolution Will Be Televised
Mazel Tov Cocktail
My Baby Is A Headfuck
I Wanna Go Where The People Go
Geordie In Wonderlad
The Jackson Whites
The Only One
You Took The Sunshine From New York
29 X The Pain
Review: Gavin Smith
Photos: Felicity Hall (At Manchester Academy)