THE WILDHEARTS / FEROCIOUS DOG - SWG3, Glasgow 04.12.18
PHOTO CREDITS: PLAN9NINE PHOTOGRAPHY
The first time I experienced THE WILDHEARTS play live was back on 14th October 1993 in Glasgow’s Barrowlands Ballroom. They were supporting Glasgow based rockers ‘The Almighty’. This was THE WILDHEARTS’ first major tour where they were promoting their album ‘Earth Vs The Wildhearts’, released on 30th August 1993. I remember being blown away by their refreshing brand or rock/punk metal. Flash forward 9,183 days later or in other words, just over 25 years, and I’m standing in the pit between the audience and the stage. ‘The pit’ is an area that is like no man’s land. You’re not part of the band or crew and you’re not a paying customer. You’re there to capture the moments, but you’ve no say in important areas such as lighting. For me, this particular gig has a nostalgic feel to it. I’m playing over in my mind the first time I saw THE WILDHEARTS all those years ago when, back in 1993, I was studying photography and had hoped that one day I’d be photographing some of my favourite bands…an unlikely dream but here I was waiting for THE WILDHEARTS to come on stage where I would photograph them. Things had come full circle.
The venue SWG3 has been busy since June of this year due to the Glasgow Art School fire where the 02 ABC on Sauchiehall Street tragically came victim to the flames too. The SWG3 was used as an alternative venue to accommodate ABC bookings but it has established itself as an ideal venue for guitar bands and it’s became a first choice of venue for many. Although it is slightly off the beaten track; there is plenty of street parking nearby and I’ve never had an issue finding a place to park. The venue is used for a wide variety of commercial and creative purposes and is rather spacious and has the vibe of an underground bunker. I’m not a fan of venues where large concrete support columns impede viewing, but I guess without them the roof would fall down! I’d like to mention that staff and security were both friendly and welcoming which always helps to make a pleasant night out.
The first thing I do at any gig is to check out the merch! Nestled up the back, I found a few tables and backboards displaying THE WILDHEARTS’ merchandise. It’s mandatory for me to buy a tour shirt at every gig I go to. I was disappointed to be told that they did not have any size Large left and the sizes they did have had a lot of X’s in front of the L.
Tour-shirtless, I made my way down to the front where I was looking forward to seeing FEROCIOUS DOG play - a band with versatile pedigree. As a long-standing fan of Carter, The Unstoppable Sex Machine, I was keen to see Les Carter, AKA Fruitbat and wondered if a Reggie/Celtic version of Sheriff Fatman was on the cards! Before long FEROCIOUS DOG took to the stage; the lights went up and before I knew it, my right index finger sprang into action. It’s only job, to press that shutter release and capture the moments on stage.
John Lenard played up to the camera by throwing me some funny faces. This is the type of interaction that warms audiences and bolsters the musical ability of the artist to be able to kick back and go with the flow. They were having a laugh while belting out killer tune after killer tune and flitting between instruments. The crowd were engaged and hanging on every word Ken Bosnall sang out. The band were tight and well-rehearsed. They gave a great performance from their opening song ‘Gallows Justice’ and throughout their set of melodic fusions of Celtic/Reggie and Punk. I’m looking forward to seeing these chaps again!
As a live performance photographer, it’s mandatory to have good stage lighting. The immortal words “first three, no flash” is something I hear on a regular basis from venue management and all I can do is nod and say “Yeah, sure”. You always feel a pang of disappointment when you’re one song in out of the three and the lights are as low as Scrooge’s energy saving bulbs! From a selfish photographic perspective, the lighting was not great, but did get better as the night went on.
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Here we go…Earth V’s The Wildhearts. The moment had arrived, the background music faded, and the house lights dipped…THE WILDHEARTS were about to take the stage and they did with explosive passion! The crowd reacted with cheers and whoops and that made Ginger Wildheart grin from ear to ear as he took centre stage. CJ Wildheart wore a Decedents T-Shirt and made momentary eye contact with me as he belted out the chords to ‘Greetings from Shitsville’. By the time ‘TV Tan’ came on, in other words song two out of three, the lighting had improved. My silent request for ‘More Cowbell’ -my brand of slang for ‘more lighting’- had been acknowledged by the lighting Gods. The shutter-bug in me was relieved! Moreover, the unthinkable had happened, the drum kit was lit too, allowing me to actually get decent photographs of Rich Batersby playing too.
The monitors I was standing next to blasted out Danny McCormick’s bass notes and I could literally feel the floor verbarate with every pluck! This got my toes tapping, not ideal when you want to be steady to take shake-free images, but hey, it’s THE WILDHEARTS, of course I’m going to bop a little! By the time ‘Everlone’ came on, I knew I had a good six minutes thirty seconds or so to nail the rest of the photos. The lighting got even better, and a purple wash flooded the stage with nice mixes of white flashes which allowed for nicely exposed images. CJ joined Ginger and stood side by side for some great double action pics. Ginger leapt into the air and I captured it perfectly. Thank God for continuous shooting mode!
My time in the pit was up and as I retreated to the bar to refresh myself, I got my first glimpse of the gig as a long shot. The venue was packed and there was considerable moshing going on down the front. You know it’s a good gig and people are enjoying it when you can’t get the bar tender’s attention as they are deep in a trance like gaze at the band! The two songs I really wanted to hear, which were my favourites, were ‘Caffeine Bomb’ and of course ‘I Wanna Go Where the People Go’, from their 1994 album P.H.U.Q. I knew this would be their closing song. The band continued to play song after song of hits. Their energy levels did not dip. Eventually they went off stage and returned a few moments later for their encore. knew I was only a few songs away from ‘I Wanna Go Where the People Go’ which I knew would cause the entire room to erupt. I made my way closer from the back to the middle of the venue and found a nice spot, just to the side of one of those concrete pillars. Then finally as predicted ‘I Wanna Go Where the People Go’ started and every person in the room began pogoing up and down singing. I’m not a fan of songs with key changes, however when it’s done well it really adds to the melodic tone of the song and I was blown away by how tight all songs tonight sounded just like the cassette I had back in ‘nineteen canteen’. I love it when bands sound like their album.
In conclusion, this was a great gig which I enjoyed and I’m sure everyone else did too. It was good to see wheelchair access and elevated viewing platforms and staff on hand to assist people with mobility issues. I really hope these guys with this line up get into the studio and start writing and recording new material as I’m keen to hear what they can turn out 25 years later…. We’ve had Earth V’s The Wildhearts…Maybe it’s time for The Wildhearts V’s Earth?
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