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Sunday, 3 June 2018

A View From The Back of The Room: Britrock Must Be Destroyed! (Live Review By Dean)

Britrock Must Be Destroyed tour (Reef, The Wildhearts, Terrorvision & Dodgy) – Motion, Bristol

Life is full of little moments of joy: Breaking the seal on a new jar of coffee, waking up after a heavy night with no semblance of a hangover and knowing every word to the first song you hear each day being three perfect examples. But imagine if a gig existed where you knew every word, of every song, by every band. Imagine the joy that would bring!

Well it happened ladies and gentlemen, as the Britrock Must Be Destroyed tour rolled into sunny Bristol to blast our faces into submission with a smorgasbord of bouncy, spiky, bluesy and, well, Dodgy music from all of our pasts, with a smidgen of current thrown in for good measure. Suffice to say a lot of joy was had.

Starting up at the unearthly hour of 5.30pm we had Dodgy (7) playing as token support for the evening (the other three bands were on co-headlining duties, with running order varying from show-to-show). Ignoring the debate as to whether Dodgy “count” as a Britrock band the band simply took to the stage with minimal fuss and began blasting through You Give Drugs A Bad Name from their most recent album What Are We Fighting For (I know, starting a retro gig with a new-ish tune: Those bastards!) and proceeded to bash through a further six tunes, including the essential Staying Out For The Summer and Good Enough with ease, confidence and a strong delivery, to give the consummate example of how to impress a crowd as a support band: No nonsense, solid tunes and a general good feeling of being there.

Well played Dodgy, well played. During the changeover it was noticeable that Nigel Clark (lead singer of Dodgy) found his way up to the Motion Balcony where he spent the entire rest of the gig, watching and listening to all other bands on the bill like a hawk. You can tell when a songwriter still has passion in their belly to keep getting better as they continue to study the craft of others to make themselves better.

Speaking of songwriting: Terrorvision (9) rocked up to the stage next and they may as well have been carrying streamers, air-horns, blowers and cake with them, as they were bringing the party and nobody was going to stop them. Blasting straight into Discotheque Wreck and without a breath transitioning into Friends And Family, the two choruses of “I’m a moving, I’m a grooving, I’m a smooching, and he’s a discotheque wreck” and “Party over here, fuck you over there” the room very quickly went from an early evening with some cans, into a writhing pit of bouncing bodies, and the clock has only just struck 6.30pm. It’s clear this is going to be a night for the ages.

Frontman Tony Wright has more energy than any human being ever, he’s here to party and he really, really does not give a damn what anybody thinks of this. He pogos through Alice What’s The Matter, throws shapes through If I Was You, does the whales and dolphins dance throughout Perseverance, sardonically gestures throughout Josephine and means every damn word when he screams through D’Ya Wanna Go Faster. He’s a rock star, pure and simple, and tonight he reminds everyone of it. The set is rounded off with Pretend Best Friend and Oblivion which puts a wonderful cap on an excellent hour of raw, party-rock. The crowd retires to the bar to re-fuel, all safe in the knowledge that they would indeed grab a tent and join Terrorvision in any back garden.

It must be an interesting experience waking up each morning for Ginger Wildheart. Knowing full well that you’ve captured musical lightning in a bottle thousands upon thousands of times, all of which are out there, available to the public yet generation-after-generation have overlooked such musical craftsmanship and opted to pick virtually every other genre of music as the flavour of the month, rather than your creations. It’s no wonder one of the UK’s most prolific songwriters of all time has suffered with mental health issues in recent years.

Nevertheless, rolling around to 8pm and the Wildhearts (9) take to the stage. This is a band who by all accounts shouldn’t even be alive, let alone touring, with Danny’s health problems and Ginger’s well documented battles with his demons over the years, yet the Wildhearts seemingly cannot be stopped and the juggernaut rolls on, and their dedicated fanbase continues to show up in droves ready to worship at the church of rock n roll.

Tonight it’s a sermon to remember, as the aforementioned bottles filled with lightning are opened in quick succession, and it seems everybody in the building is a conductor tonight, as the electricity soon rises to 1.21 gigawatts and an already animated crowd pretty much reaches full charge as Sick Of Drugs rolls into TV Tan leading to My Baby Is A Headfuck which (as with on their debut album Earth Vs The Wildhearts) flows into Suckerpunch and, just to really get everything to fever pitch, Caffeine Bomb quickly follows. We’re 15 minutes and 5 songs deep, with virtually zero stage banter, and everything played at breakneck speed, it’s apparent this is going to be the ultimate no-bullshit show for the ages. The Wildhearts are on a mission.

A quick break to introduce the band (CJ: guitars and Pork Pie hat, Ritch: drums and hangover and Danny: bass and all the chants ever) and we’re off again. Vanilla Radio, Everlone, Nita Nitro and Weekend (5 Long Days) tear by without a member of the audience forgetting a single word, Geordie In Wonderland” features the biggest sing-along of the night, Love U ‘Til I Don’t and Greetings From Shitsville batter the eardrums and it becomes apparent: We’re having a bit of a moment here where the fans and the band are in perfect unison, appreciating every moment and having a bloody great time. We’ve reached rock n roll Nirvana folks. The set closes with 29x The Pain (surely the most adored b-side in history) and the obligatory pogo-along to I Wanna Go Where The People Go to rapturous applause and everyone heads for oxygen and the bar. Magnificent.

Reef (9) were always going to be the odd-one-out on this tour, as whilst Terrorvision are the kings of the party, and the Wildhearts are the party, Reef are the point where blues meets Britrock, where mellow meets rock, and they were always going to have to prove themselves doubly hard to those whom are in attendance for their touring partners. They achieve this and then some, showing exactly why they’re the band touting new material (and a new lease of life) via their excellent new record Revelation on this tour.

Firstly, Gary Stringer’s voice is incredible these days. With time it has somehow gathered more gusto than ever, with a soaring power and tone that most vocalists don’t maintain as time goes on. The rest of the band are tight where they need to be, loose where it counts, and new guitarist Jesse is an absolute demon on the strings. Reef are in their glory days, they’re better than ever.

The set opens with old-school favourites Naked, I Would Have Left You and Stone For Your Love, all delivered effortlessly but with a power unexpected by most. But even more surprising was what came next as Gary was joined by one of the backing singers to duet on recent single My Sweet Love (Sheryl Crow takes vocal duties on the album). The song starts, the chorus hit and……. holy crap, my goosebumps got goosebumps. The harmonies are perfect, the musicianship is immaculate and the crowd are loving every goddamned minute of it. A truly special musical moment, during a retro tour, for a new song. Go figure.

The band keep it low-key with Consideration before upping tempo into Revelation’s How I Got Over (a gospel rock n roll tune with a beast of a hook), Don’t You Like It and the mid-set appearance of Place Your Hands. So confident are Reef that they’re going to keep this crowd they drop their biggest hit eight songs in. Swagger, but a cool swagger.

It’s worth noting at this point that not one of the Wildhearts/Terrorvision fan club have left. The venue still remains packed to the rafters as Reef continue to deliver a captivating, musically perfect show. New single Precious Metal brings a true Bon Scott-esque rock n roll swagger, title track Revelation itself teaches the whole audience all the words in a matter of minutes. Yer Old and End fittingly close the set before the obligatory encore of I’ve Got Something To Say, and indeed Reef do, Reef have a lot to say at the moment, and they’re more relevant, captivating and enjoyable than ever.

The evening ends just shy of 11pm, a sea of very, very happy faces flow out of Motion. A truly special night.

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