at Mining Institute, Newcastle, U.K., May 2, 2015

When The Wildhearts frontman Ginger set out on his latest Songs and Words tour he decided that it wouldn’t take place in the usual venues around the country, it had to be something different and unique. The Mining Institute in Newcastle was the perfect venue. It’s ornate Victorian architecture and atmospheric ambiance was ideal for an acoustic setting.

When artists talk of an intimate show they usually mean playing a club instead of a theatre or arena. Now THIS was intimate. Set in a small lecture theatre comprising five rows of seats in a bowl type arrangement probably more used to the type of science institute lectures that once aired on the BBC in the early mornings before Sky TV was invented.


Joined by Wolfsbane’s Jason Edwards on guitar and vocals Ginger promised a riotous ride through his musical career accompanied by songs and stories along the way. There was plenty of material to get through being such a prolific writer having released numerous albums with The Wildhearts, Clam Abuse, Silver Ginger 5, Hey Hello and not forgetting his work with Hanoi Rocks frontman Michael Monroe.


Ginger is one mercurial story teller. Engaging the audience with a fine wit and firing back humorous one liners to audience banter as he told stories of living in a squat, getting his “walking papers” from his first band the Quireboys, working with one Sharon Osborne and auditioning a singer with the rather strange name of Duncan F. Mullet which lead directly to Ginger and CJ Wildheart sharing lead vocals by accident to give The Wildhearts their unique harmony Metallica meets Cheap Trick style.

When the songs came they were greeted like long lost friends. Each song section was a short medley of songs from the times he was talking about so TV Tan and The Miles Away Girl related to the early days of The Wildhearts while the story of the writing of Caffeine Bomb ending up at double speed only because the auditioning Rich Battersby was so nervous he lost track of the tempo was a fascinating and funny tale of one of the most popular from their catalogue.

Further stories of burning down the Chelsea Hotel, a feat previously matched by Andy Warhol and Sid Vicious; smoothing relations between CJ and macho Metal band Manowar and spending time in a Thai jail all went down a storm with Ginger coming across as a time served comedian.

As Ginger dug deep into his repertoire with rarely played nuggets like Inside Out and Monkey Zoo by Silver Ginger 5 and Message To Geri by Clam Abuse the crowd lapped it up revelling in hearing these, in many cases, for the first time live on stage.

When the crowd joined in with I Wanna Go Where The People Go and the sea shanty flavoured Geordie in Wonderland, South Shields born Ginger looked visibly stunned by the audience participation, proclaiming it by far and away the loudest on the tour.

This was a inimitable show in a beautiful setting that at times really did feel so intimate that it almost felt like being in your living room with a few friends. What the rather stern looking gentlemen in the photographs adorning the walls right around the hall would have made of this is another matter, but for those 100 or so people in the audience this was a unique and hugely enjoyable evening of great stories and songs.


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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