Ginger Wildheart @ Belfast by Mark Ashby

Photography by Jamie Hunter
Ginger has a reputation – by his own admission – of being a temperamental performer: “a moody bastard” as he puts it himself.

The last time this critic caught him live was at last December’s Hard Rock Hell festival in north Wales and, despite playing to a capacity crowd on the main stage, he made it very clear he didn’t want to be there – saying how much he hated playing live and delivering a lacklustre, to say the least.

So, six months later, would his demeanour have changed? Riding on the back of his hugely successful Pledge Music campaign – which raised £250,000 towards the costs of his soon-to-be-released latest solo album – this was the first night of a short run of dates, culminating in an appearance at (what turned out to be) the mudbath of this year’s Donington… and no clearer a demonstration of the old saying about chalk and cheese could we not have witnessed.

It was clear from the off that he was on good form.
Looking lean and fit in a snazzy black suit – matched by the rest of the band (except for backing vocalist Victoria Liedke’s white ra-ra skirt) – he was grinning from ear to ear as he opened with ‘Another Spinning Fucking Rainbow’, tonight’s lead track from aforesaid new album.

Thanking the small audience (the cavernous venue had to be heavily curtained to make it look full: not a comment on Ginger’s drawing power, but the lack of alternative venues available to the promoter) for their attendance – “there’s probably a dubstep club you’d rather have gone to, but you’re here” he quipped – he later referred to it as “one of the best opening nights of a tour” he had enjoyed in a long time.

And he clearly was enjoying himself: ‘Girls Are Better Than Boys’, from the ‘Silver Ginger 5’ album led seamlessly into the party anthem ‘Mazel Tov Cocktail’, which itself ended with a cheeky, impromptu rendition of his signature ‘Geordie In Wonderland’ and a quick tribute to opening act Trucker Diablo with the chorus to their anthem ‘Drink Beer, Destroy’, which in turn prompted him to ask the audience for directions to the nearest bar for a post-show party.
Add in a stunning version of ‘Sonic Shake’ and a healthy dose of Wildhearts favourites – including ‘S.I.N (In Sin)’, the uproarious punk ‘n’ brawl of ‘Suckerpunch’, the closing due of ‘You Took The Sunshine From New York’ and ‘The Hard Way’ and the show stealing encore closer ‘Inglorious’ (which was anything but) – and this was the Ginger we prefer… the cheeky Geordie in his own wee private wonderland, having a party with a few dozen mates who just popped round to share some rather wonderful rawk ‘n’ roll… but I hope someone remembered to pick up his bar tab…