The Engine Rooms, Southampton

The Wildhearts

It’s Thursday evening and Southampton Engine Rooms awaits one of Rock’s heavyweights and one of the hardest working bands in the business. tonight in the shape of The Wildhearts. With a new material to plug they pull a near sell-out crowd and no-one leaves disappointed. They have gone for a more ‘eclectic’ choice of supports in Janus Stark and Desperate Measures. With around a hundred in the room the show begins.

Desperate Measures initially came to being at the height of Punk’s Third Wave. Initially based in Christchurch New Zealand they’re-located some 35 years later to London and have been gigging here ever since. Their brand of Punk/RnR is the perfect way to start the evening. They have a rounded sound; honed by years of practice, and look the part too. They open with “Nation Divided”, cue political rant! It’s a decent enough opening and they set out their stall early. Michael Gaffney,(guitar) really looks the part, every inch the Rock Star in look and mannerisms. The bassist Paul-Ronney Angel is borrowed from ‘The Urban Voodoo Machine’ and is chief shapeshifter. “Phoney Heaven” comes next, followed by “Agony”. “Executive Order” is dedicated to Trump in another unabashed political rant, which gets the punters onside in these difficult times. Eugene (vox) has a strong, confident vocal style – slightly gravelly but delivered with a passion. “Hells Angels” precedes a cover, I’m still no wiser who wrote “No Time” with James (drums) keeping the beat in the engine room. They leave the stage thinking their time is up, only to be told to perform one more song. They leave us with their first ever single “1984”, which reminds us of the Punk genre they were a part of way back when. It’s a fitting end to a decent set and they receive good applause.

Desperate Measures
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Next up are a band who’ve been around for a few years now. I first saw Janus Stark some twenty or so years ago in a tiny venue in Bournemouth, playing to around 50 people. Wind forward to 2019 and tonight they are the main headliners. From that original line-up remains singer and chief songwriter Gizz Butt. His musical history is well known but tonight he sticks to what he does best. Decked out in matching attire they look the part from the off. They open with “Enemy Lines” and to start with it’s more a melodic Punk sound. Gizz uses time between songs to engage this Southampton crowd. He dedicates “Crucify All The Leaders” to Boris and leaders in general. On “Clique” they up the ante and this time the song is dedicated to us the audience. The songs then take a more straight-up Punk vibe before set highlight “Floyd (what are you on?)” – dedicated to a Punk sending out mixed messages with his leather-jacketed logo artwork. Gizz passionately introduces the next number with a heartfelt nod to ex -fellow ‘Prodigy’ band member Keith Flint. Keith once told him “we are all commodities you know”, but Gizz wanted to challenge that mindset, hence “Commodity Awakening”. “Barriers” again has a political slant to it and they depart us on their minor league hit, the excellent “Every Little Thing Counts” and rightly take the plaudits long and loud. There’s a certain fire in the belly of this band and a support slot like tonight will have done them no harm.

Janus Stark
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And so to the main attraction. At bang on 9.30pm The Wildhearts take to the stage. A huge roar goes up as they launch into their first song “Diagnosis” from their latest release. Tonight’s show will debut many of the songs from “Renaissance Men”, with a good selection from their entire career to date. This Southampton crowd are well up for it, creating a party atmosphere normally seen at weekend gigs. “Let ‘Em Go” is the first big singalong and more punters head for the pit. They are not disappointed when they are dealt to bangers to get everyone in the zone. “I Wanna Go Where The People Go” is arguably their finest song and a live staple that never disappoints, and tonight was never going to be an exception. My favourite track comes next in the form of “Sick Of Drugs”, after which Ginger proclaims “this might be the best crowd on the tour (so far)”. “The Revolution Will Be Televised” brings more political baiting while “My Kinda Movie” precedes a rare outing for “Mindslide”. Danny (bass) is in fine fettle, smiling at punters on the front row throughout. It’s as if he has his own private fan club with choruses of “Danny, Danny” at regular intervals throughout. CJ (guitar) must be feeling a little left out! “Caffeine Bomb” is delivered at breakneck speed while ‘Dislocated’ has more than a nod to Motorhead. “The Jackson Whites” precedes a rampant “Red Light Green Light” before once again Ginger humours us, something along the lines of “well you might be a better looking crowd than in other towns, but are you as generous?”. While reminding us of the merch stand he makes an appeal for punters to buy them drinks. It obviously works as the drinks coming forth are aplenty. Danny once again seems to be the greater recipient! “Danny, Danny…” “Vanilla Radio” is another good singalong while “Fine Art of Deception” is gravelly in the vocal and bass heavy with such a catchy chorus, which we all join in on. They depart us on “Action Panzer” which is just riff after riff with its classic Rock sound of yesteryear.

The Wildhearts
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They aren’t away long and return with what Ginger describes as a surprise hit that graced the Top Twenty back in the day saying “I wish we’d bet on it being a hit, but we were all skint”! “Stormy In The North” begins a four-song encore that is complimented by the brilliant ‘Anthem’. Danny takes over vocal duties, as he did back in ’97 when again they were gracing the charts. His vocal tonight is less harsh but no less passionate. “Top Of The World” has that wonderful radio friendly feel, even in the live arena and they depart for the evening on “Shame On Me”.

Once again The Wildhearts prove they are not ready to throw in the towel just yet, far from it. With a great album just released, the size of tonight’s audience would suggest they won’t be retiring anytime soon. This Southampton crowd came for a full-on Rock Show and don’t leave disappointed. The great thing about this band is they just never sit still, always pushing the boundaries of their sound. And with what appears to be a consistent line-up, this is still their time. Their prolific live output means we the fans can look forward to many more tours in the future. Bands come and go, line-ups change but these guys never know when they’re done – long may that continue. “Renaissance Men” never seems more apt!

The Wildhearts
Let ‘Em Go
I Wanna Go Where the People Go
Sick of Drugs
The Revolution Will Be Televised
My Kinda Movie
Caffeine Bomb
The Jackson Whites
Red Light – Green Light
Vanilla Radio
Fine Art of Deception
Action Panzer
Stormy in the North, Karma In The South
Top of The World
Shame on Me

Janus Stark
Enemy Lines
Crucify all the Leaders
Panic Attack
White Man Speak with Fork Tongue
Floyd (what are you on?)
Commodity Awakening
Every Little Thing Counts

Desperate Measures
Nation Divided
Phoney Heaven
Executive Order
Hells Angels
No Time






Words by Ross A. Ferrone.
Pictures & Video by David Chinery (Chinners).
Additional Content by Joshua Chinery.

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