The Wildhearts are a true UK rock n roll treasure. What can be said about them that hasn’t been said before? They continue to persevere under any and all circumstances thrown at them wearing their hearts on their sleeves while continuing to raise the bar. Touring in support of their blistering new album, 21st Century Love Songs is the perfect soundtrack for 2021. It’s a raw, unapologetic sign of the times banger that passes eleven and doesn’t look back. This was the fifth time I’ve seen the Wildhearts since moving to the UK several years ago, and I would argue it was the best. They are currently at the top of their game and the capacity crowd at the Electric Ballroom was reacting.
The songwriting continues to evolve and push the boundaries of what is and isn’t the Wildheart’s “sound.” Even though we only got two songs from the new record, “Remember the Days” and “Splitter,” the setlist was a tour de force of tracks showcasing the strength of the band’s catalog. The Electric Ballroom is the perfect venue for a rock n roll show of this magnitude. Not too small, giving the band plenty of room for their signature jumps and axe slinging, and not too big where the intimacy of being immersed in the music is lost.
The opener “Diagnosis” sounded bigger than life and felt like a Cheap Trick “at Bodulon” moment with the monstrous guitar sounds. There were reports of sound issues at previous gigs but I thought this one was sonically spot on. Being up near the front and even removing my ear protection (I’ve got to protect the ears after years and years of gigs both on stage and off), I distinctly remember one of my favorites, “Dislocated” sounding exceptionally good (and heavy!) that night and “Caffeine Bomb” and “Suckerpunch” tearing through the crowd like a buzzsaw.
The chemistry between CJ and Ginger remains incredibly potent, while Ritch continues to be an absolute beast on the drums, and Danny looks to be more comfortable and confident than ever rounding out the powerhouse wall of sound. The new songs fit perfectly into the setlist, rounded out by three modern classics from Renaissance Men, and of course, the fan favorites already mentioned along with “Vanilla Radio,” “I Wanna Go”, and “Sick of Drugs” which never fail to take these shows over the top.
The fans were going fucking bananas pretty much the entire time as the energy level never let up. The Wildhearts looked to be having the time of their lives on stage, and there was something uniquely special about this show. The fans, the venue, the new songs, the chart success, and the excitement of release week all came together for this pinnacle of a gig. Well done, gentlemen, well done, and congrats on the well-deserved success. Now let’s get the rest of the world on board.
The Middlenight Men – The surprise of the night came in the form of a nine-piece heavy pop-rock group called The Middlenight Men. These guys (and girls) were tremendous. Sort of like Cheap Trick crossed with Teenage Fanclub crossed with a touch of early Green Day. Their debut is out now and it’s quickly topping the best of 2021 lists.
Those Damn Crows – Touring in support of their sophomore release on Earchach, these guys are right on the verge of being the next big straight-up rock band out of the UK. High hopes and stadium-sized anthems are paving the way.