I’m going to start this review by saying I’m not a Ginger fan. Why was I there then? Well, it was by the seaside, and I never miss a chance to get out of Birmingham! Plus I’m nosy and curious; who doesn’t want to hear the behind the scenes stories of a band you’re engaged with, even if only in some small way?
Let me backtrack. My musical tastes have been very varied over the years; changing and evolving. When I met hubby he introduced me to loads of bands I’d never heard of and, by osmosis (i.e. him playing them so much at home until I had no choice in the matter) I started to pick up on different stuff. As such the evolvement of my musical tastes continued. We’ve been to see many of these bands – often these days at my request – and that was where I first encountered Ginger. He was playing guitar for another of hubby’s musical heroes (Michael Monroe of Hanoi Rocks fame) and ended up in the bar of our hotel later that night. I asked if we could get a photo and he said no and ran off, laughing. I took this to be arrogant rockstar behaviour and, being my judgemental self, declared he was a knob.
Fast forward to 2013, and the Wildhearts touring their debut album, Earth versus The Wildhearts, in full. Again I was seduced by a weekend away with friends – the gig was only part of it. And I’m certainly not averse to their music. I was quite often to be heard singing along at home, and I appreciated the clever lyrics and catchy riffs. But at this gig, in Nottingham Rock City, I got it. The place was packed (it was a sold out show) and the energy of the band and the crowd were just brilliant. The performance was so good and so tight that it was like listening to the CD at home. And I had a fab fab time.
So much so that I asked the hubby if we could see them again, on the same tour, a few weeks later in Kentish Town, which we did.
By now I was having to revise my opinion of Ginger. Because you can’t really like a band if you think one or more members are absolute tossers. And I started to think that, actually, I was probably in the wrong with my initial opinion of him. After all, why should he have acquiesced to a photograph he didn’t want just because I requested it? It was late, he was chilling out post performance having a beer. He wasn’t malicious or rude about the refusal, in fact he was quite playful. And then I felt like the knob (not an uncommon occurrence, tbh).
So, back to Songs and Words. Hubby was planning to go to the Birmingham date, but didn’t make it. So I suggested we head down to Weston for what was the final date of the tour, at the Blakehay Theatre.
Great venue. Beautiful building, easy to find, incredibly friendly and helpful staff, and a bar so cheap it was rude not to drink quite a lot of vodka. The performance space is fully seated and very intimate (only 10 rows, auditorium style), so every seat had a fabulous view of the stage. Sound was great.
And so to the actual show. I had a really, really ace night. Ginger is very funny, witty, acerbic, self deprecating and honest. He spoke with fervour and raw emotion about the ups and downs of his career – the promising times, the bad times, the drug times and the prison times. The audience were hanging on his every word, just waiting to hear what would come next. The story was punctuated with songs from his albums – clever segues that moved the monologue along, 2-3 tracks combined into a medley. He sounded fab. Great catchy vocals delivered with passion, sung acoustically with just himself and Jase Edwards from Wolfsbane on guitar. There was no stage show. Nothing fancy. Just two people, an album backdrop and a soundman. And it was all the better for it.
Is he a rockstar? Yes. Does he have rockstar attitude? Yes. But I no longer think it’s negative or arrogant. I left the theatre seeing him as an incredibly talented individual, a brilliant songwriter and a passionate musician who has, at times, had the rug pulled from under his feet (and by his own admission, sometimes kicked it away himself with his destructive behaviour). Ultimately he’s a person doing a job, and obstacles have been put in front of him carrying out that job. To hear his own happy ending – finding love and the success of the Pledge campaigns – was a really nice finish to the show (which, incidentally, was over 3 hours long including the interval – real value for money). And his gratitude to the fans was obvious. Ultimately, through Pledge, he’s giving his fans what they want, at a time when a record company won’t do that.
Of course there’s something in it for him – there’ll be money and adoration – but you really feel that he’s in it for the music. And for that I retract all the bad thoughts I ever had.
Roll on more Songs & Words.