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Friday 26 April 2024

A View From The Back Of The Room: CJ Wildheart (Live Review By Debby Myatt)

CJ Wildheart, Face Up!, The Scumbags, KK’s Steel Mill, Wolverhampton 20.04.24 

We’re back at KK’s in Wolverhampton, this time for a show full of punk rock attitude.

First up is local trio, The Scumbags (7) This is straight up street punk -  fast, infectious and in your face. 

The songs are the best sort of street punks songs, those about everyday stuff that we all relate to. Guitarist/vocalist Ross keeps things flowing with his banter in between the songs that come thick and fast with a cheer of approval when they play Never Going Back To Gornal (an area that is the butt of jokes from the rest of the Black Country). A fun and energetic way to get the crowd warmed up!

Main support for tonight comes from West Midlands punk stalwarts Face Up! (8) It’s not often you see a five piece punk band, but Face Up! don’t really go by the punk rock rule book and have forged their own path with a bombastic style that has made them a popular booking up and down the country as well as in Europe. Their songs are more edgy, angry even and speak of more political and socially aware subjects. 

The set comprises mainly of songs taken from their albums FU! and The World Is Ours. Roxy is the focal point with the rest of the band playing off her, and she is in her element leading the crowd (many who wouldn’t have seen them before) in joining in with the anthemic songs like “The World Is Ours!” and “Stand, Fight, Live, Die” 

In having two guitars (Neil and Tom), there’s more depth and layers to their music which is finished off by the booming rhythm section of Gav (bass) and Bez (drums), who is probably the hardest hitter of the skins that I’ve ever seen! Above all they are having fun on stage and that spills over into the crowd. This is punk rock more along the lines of Bad Religion than The Ramones and a perfect foil for the rock ‘n’ roll to come.

CJ Wildheart (9) founding member of the most dynamic, explosive and volatile rock band in recent British rock, The Wildhearts. That’s what you often see or hear, but CJ is much, much more than that. An eloquent, intelligent man who writes great songs and has a wit and humility that seems a world away from fractious band politics.

He’s touring with his band to promote his latest album Split which is peppered with hard hitting tracks that are woven with CJ’s trademark melodic groove.

Tonight sees him in a reflective mood, giving us a small insight to his past as he reminisces about points in time that inspire much of his writing. Kick Down The Walls and All You Rude Boys speak of his angry youth, with songs like S.D.E. and Fire The Battery are still full of anger but are much more about the here and now.

CJ has had a long and productive career and not just with that other band, and in this retrospective mood he treats us to some tracks from The Jellys - Lemonade Girl and Honeycrack - Go Away and Sitting At Home. And yes we do get a couple of Wildhearts tracks thrown in, not any of the obvious ones but ones that CJ wrote and probably have a special meaning to him - O.C.D. and Little Flower

At the start of the show he said “The older I get - the more noise I want to make” and that’s definitely an aspiration that we can fully get behind, if this latest album and tour is anything to go by, we’ll be seeing a lot more of CJ in the future.

If you missed him on this tour he’ll be back in the Midlands on the 7th September to headline the Brum Punx Picnic at The Castle and Falcon. https://www.seetickets.com/tour/brum-punx-picnic-2024 

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