The Wildhearts, Reef, Terrorvision and Dodgy – Britrock Must Be Destroyed – 20th May 2018 – Newcastle O2 Academy
Review by Kevin Burdon, photos by Gordon Armstrong
While I don’t recall “Britrock” ever actually being an actual thing back in the 90s and 00s, the label serves as a canny promotional tactic to package up four of the most prominent rock acts of the era on a single tour. Let’s face it, if the banner has brought together a lineup consisting of The Wildhearts, Terrorvision and Reef (rotating as headliners across the tour) with support from Dodgy, who’s complaining?! The strategy seems to have paid off nicely, with a very healthy turnout in the Academy on Sunday night.
On paper, Dodgy seemed to be a bit of a lightweight addition to the bill when compared to the rest of the lineup, but they performed well and got the night off to a good start. It certainly didn’t hurt that they have a couple of classic hits (Staying Out for the Summer and Good Enough) in the arsenal to kick off the nostalgia vibe and get the party started and they got a really warm response from the steadily growing crowd.
Terrorvision frontman Tony Wright is probably one of the most energetic performers you’re likely to witness. He never stopped bouncing around the stage for the entire set, never seeming out of breath even when delivering the rapid-fire lyrics of Perseverance. The band were on great form and the audience were in fine voice too, assisting Tony heartily with the likes Alice What’s the Matter, Celebrity Hit List and Josephine. They powered through a set of hits (plentiful enough that they were able to leave out the chart-busting pop of Tequila in favour of some of the more hard rocking tracks), before spectacularly bouncy rendition of Oblivion brought a close to their phenomenal set, which on any other night would have justifiably worthy of the headline slot.
There had been a few critical voices in some online communities when Reef had been announced for this gig, and there was a sense that in certain quarters they had been written off before playing a single note. While they might not have been everyone’s proverbial cuppa at the start of the night, a confident performance of their groove-laden alt-rock certainly seemed to win over their doubters and the band got a great response from the crowd. The old songs Place your Hands and Come Back Brighter were very well received, but also the new material such as Revelation was impressive, with a much more straight up classic rock kind of vibe to it. Even some of the slower songs like My Sweet Love went down very well with what was a predominantly hard rock crowd, with frontman Gary Stringer impressing with his versatile vocal abilities throughout the set.
As a hometown show for Ginger & Danny, the Wildhearts were the obvious choice of headliner for the Newcastle date and as such got an additional 15 minutes of stage time. In an interview prior to the gig Ginger had promised to “only play the songs that will make the audience sing and dance”, and true to his word the next 75 minutes were stacked with the riffs and infectious melodies the band are renowned for. Hit followed hit followed hit without reprieve, and even the double whammy of Suckerpunch straight into Caffeine Bomb didn’t tire the crowd, who bounced and sang along loudly to every word throughout the set. The band have recently reformed after a few years’ hiatus, during which they’ve had to overcome several of their own individual personal battles (while still finding time to record some superb solo projects), and they seemed to be reinvigorated with renewed enthusiasm on stage. If this energy can be carried over into the recording of the new album then it promises to be an absolute belter. It was also a pleasure to see original member Danny McCormack return to the fold on bass duties, and he seemed to genuinely love being back on stage with the band. The hits continued, before finally the band closed out the superb set with fan favourite 29x the Pain and the anthemic I Wanna Go Where the People Go to a raucous reaction from the crowd. The Wildhearts have never been a band where you can predict what will happen next in their story, but you can guarantee that when they’re on stage and firing on all cylinders they’re unassailable.
Overall, the strategy of combining all of these bands paid off; it got a lot of punters through the door and made for a hell of a gig for those in attendance. Yet while there was an element of reminiscence and a nod to the 90s heyday about the tour’s marketing, there was nothing to suggest that any of these bands are mere nostalgia acts; They are all still exceptional live performers with plenty of new music still to offer.
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