A couple of years ago Ginger Wildheart announced a new campaign via his now well established channel on Pledgemusic to write and release a book tracing the story of his career song by song, Songs & Words. As seems to have become customary with these things the project expanded from a simple autobiographical book to a live stage show and then this DVD of that show – a kind of ‘Audience with… Ginger Wildheart’.
Recorded on the London leg of the tour, at the Leicester Square Theatre (apparently where the Sex Pistols played their first gig with Sid Vicious, according to Mr. Wildheart) it’s a lengthy affair, as anyone who’s brought any of Ginger’s recent albums would expect, but comes with an impressive air of intimacy as Ginger leads us through his career and life from the moment he was fired from the Quireboys by Sharon Osbourne to the beginning of what became the 555% triple album.
The first half of the show tracks the first run of The Wildhearts, the band for whom Ginger is, of course, most well-known, and while their exploits are fairly legendary, hearing them from the horse’s mouth is something else. This is where the show’s real appeal comes in that it really doesn’t seem as if Ginger is out to hide anything or cover anything up and he is brutally honest about a lot of aspects of his life – far more so than most other musicians you’ll find.
So, we get stories of a fairly astronomical drug intake, misadventure when trying to record a music video in New York, squandering record company money on bizarre video projects in an attempt to get fired and more.
I’m sure that all sounds like a thousand other rock ‘n’ roll stories, what makes this feel a bit different though is the unassuming air Ginger has on stage that makes him come across like a ‘local musician’ (for want of a better description) – someone you could know playing shows in small venues, who happens to have stumbled into this world of excess and somehow managed to survive it for the best part of 30 years and counting.
The second half of the show charts the more musically eccentric side of Ginger’s career with solo albums, joining and leaving various bands and diversions in a Thai prison, punctuated by occasional reformations of the band that gave him his name. In some ways this less rock ‘n’ roll stereotype period (though there’s still plenty of drugs and related misdemeanours) is the more interesting and is where Ginger seems more relaxed – though that could be the brandy he’s swigging throughout the show.
A surprise highlight of this is that Ginger even discusses his most unusual album, World of Filth, that he released under the name Howling Willie Cunt, and even plays extracts from a few songs from it – these are not for the weak of heart (or stomach).
It’s not just the country & western abomination that we hear music from as, across the show, Ginger and long time musical collaborator Jase Edwards play acoustic medleys of tracks from most of the albums from Mondo Akimbo A-Go-Go to 555%.
While some of these sound as you might expect or as they do on Ginger’s acoustic albums (such as Kiss Alive II), others are something a bit different and a bit special to hear, especially the material from Endless, Nameless and The White Album which is general less heard to start with, let alone in this stripped down form.
While even three hours isn’t enough to fit in all the trials and tribulations of Ginger’s life (as the accompanying book goes into much greater depth) this is a fascinating watch for any fan and, I would say, for anyone with an interest in stories of musicians and dealing with the music industry as well as the more traditional rock ‘n’ roll debauchery side of things along with some great musical interludes.