Review: Ginger Wildheart and The Sinners – The Junction, Plymouth

“Intimate” is definitely a word appropriate to The Junction in Plymouth. A tiny rock pub in the student area of Plymouth with good beer, great sound and light, and an ambitious and successful promoter that definitely punches above his weight in attracting big names to the far SW. Tonight, on a wet Sunday in October, it is the turn of Ginger Wildheart and The Sinners to trek to Devon. I’m not sure any of us really expected the night to be quite as wonderful as it was!

Opening the evening was Boss Caine in the person of Daniel Lucas with a laid-back, deep-voiced, country-vibe set of beautifully written songs. It isn’t easy to stand on a stage alone and warm an audience up, but as it transpired it was a perfect choice of opener. The bar queue noticeably shorter whilst he was playing and the reaction to each song growing more and more appreciative as the short set continued.

As there was so little to clear away, the stage was already pretty much set for the headliner to wander on to the intro music whilst having a little dance. Straight into ‘The Road’ and the more guitar-led ‘That Smile, before introducing a song that Ginger said he wanted on the first album: ‘Dirty Water’ by Quo. I think it was at this point that band and audience both realised something a bit special was brewing as the interactions were sung back with sheer volume and passion.

The interaction between Ginger and fellow guitarist-vocalist Neil Ivison was an absolute delight. Both musically, where they play off each other effortlessly, and in the clear bromance between them as they swap jokes and anecdotes. Ivison getting confused and saying he was pleased to be in Portsmouth kept Ginger teasing all night and the conversation about how bad the crowd was at a previous gig and how they could use the memory to prevent premature ejaculation when “passing the time in the tour bus” the next day, had the audience crying with laughter. A proportion of the set is made up of well-chosen covers. ‘Six Years Gone’ by the Georgia Satellites, ‘Broken Down Angel’ by Nazareth (one of a surprising number of bands to come from Dunfermline apparently!), ‘Willin’ by Little Feat, and ‘The Weight’ by The Band are dotted throughout.

But it is the group’s own material that really stands out. The slower tempo and less frantic delivery give time to appreciate the sheer songwriting genius, like swapping a bottle of Jack for a good-sized measure of a fine single malt. Several of the songs come from the as-yet-unreleased second album, which Ginger tells us will be released when the record company finishes insisting on them “milking this fucker”. ‘Key of Love’ in particular set up my anticipation to hear more. ‘Arms of Love’ is described as the song that made Ginger fall in love with the band and want to make music with them, and I can see why!

There is a trend (thank God) for bands to decry the rather pointless farce of walking off stage only to return surprised for an encore that everyone knows is coming and GWaTS thankfully not only follow it but make it their own, telling the audience to all turn their backs, which literally EVERYONE did and then Ginger exclaiming “fuck that is horrible, turn back, turn back” and instead pretending surprise that they have been summoned back. In truth, they would have been, because by this point both band and audience know something a bit special is going down and a bond is being created. The encore is set listed as three songs; the almost skiffle-like ‘Call of the Road’ with storytelling lyrics of the highest order, ‘Breakout’, and finally that cover of The Band’s ‘The Weight’. The reaction from the crowd prompts a quick check with the venue and we are treated to an extra encore, a cover of the Tom Petty song ‘Anything That’s Rock n Roll’ with Ginger on the drums!

I got the feeling that without a curfew the guys (line-up completed by Nick Lyndon on bass, and Shane Dixon on drums) would have just kept playing but sadly they had to say goodbye. Sometimes after a gig, my knees hurt from jumping or my neck from head banging. As I walked to my car my mouth hurt, from laughing, smiling, and singing through the entire set. The wonderful thing is that I got the feeling Ginger left the stage feeling the same way, and that, to me, made the night something really special.

Ginger Wildheart & The Sinners UK October 2022 tour

25th London, Bush Hall 
26th Norwich, Brickmakers 
27th Portsmouth, Wedgewood Rooms 
29th Chester, Live Rooms 
30th Birmingham, Hare & Hounds 

Tickets available now at https://www.facebook.com/gingersinners

Review and pics Rob Wilkins

 

 

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