The Wildhearts – “30 Year Itch: Live”
Label: Round Records
Review: Dawn Osborne
Recorded live during the band’s ‘The Renaissance Men’ and ‘Diagnosis’ tours during 2019, the main offering is a 17-track double album of classics from across The Wildhearts’ 30 year career (mostly the 90s, five from the 2000s and a couple from the new album). As a bonus for pre-ordering the album there was also a download of 4 exclusive tracks not be included on the final album to which we also got access. Released at a time when live shows are not possible the band said they wanted to provide something crowds can’t get at the moment while the band are all still alive!!
Kicking off with ‘Dislocated’ from the newest album ‘The Renaissance Men’ it’s loud and raucous, riff heavy, starting with a Motörhead style verse, but quickly getting into a commercial chorus and heavy back end with plenty of noise from the crowd. ‘Everlone’ from 1993’s ‘Earth v The Wildhearts‘ has a titanic bassline, a punk fast beat, Lemmy like vocals and that swingin from side to side trade mark Wildhearts good mood, live vibe. Followed by ‘Suckerpunch’ from the same album performed at an ‘Ace of Spades’ breathless pace. ‘Anthem’ (Endless Nameless) gets the crowd singing along ‘I’m in love with the Rock n Roll World’. ‘Diagnosis’ from the newest album sits very happily along the classics with its brilliantly contagious chorus, stompalong beat, rock n roll riff, punk gang vocals complete with Georgie accent and distinctive chord changes.
‘TV Tan’ (Earth v The Wildhearts) has another irresistible singalong and is followed by the lesser known and anger fueled number, ‘The Jackson Whites’ (Chutzpah) a reference to the legend of a people living as renegades in the New Jersey Ramapo mountains. ‘Let Em Go’, another instant classic from the new album is full of life and energy – instant magic for a live show. Followed by possibly the best Wildhearts song ever ‘Vanilla Radio’ (Riff after Riff) – if your heart’s not pumping by now you must be dead.
On the home straight ‘Sick Of Drugs’ (Fishing for Luckies) inspires the crowd to join in from the start. ‘The Revolution Will Be Televised’ (The Wildhearts eponymous album) has that slightly Celtic feel some of the Wildhearts’ songs have and a most impressive and tuneful crowd participation that couldn’t have been better if rehearsed. ‘Caffeine Bomb’ with its pure punk energy and ‘Love U Til I Don’t’ with its more easy going rock n roll feel are up next, both popular tracks from Earth v The Wildhearts. Finishing with ‘I Wanna Go Where The People Go’ (PHUQ) the essential Wildhearts anthem, hopefully you’re now ready to smile your way into the night, especially if you’ve had a few.
If you’re lucky enough to get the four bonus tracks they include ‘Top of The World’ (a 2003 single) with big riffs, a commercial happy vibe and a big finish. ‘Shame on Me’ (Earth v The Wildhearts) adds some thrashy style heaviness and a nice guitar solo all in one package. ‘My Baby Is a Headfuck’ from the same album, an irrepressible number, makes you wanna pogo instantly and contains a snippet of the Beatles ‘Day Tripper’ just like the band were doing on tour. ‘Nothing Ever Changes’ (Anarchic Airwaves) gets a huge scream from someone in the crowd before it’s bright clear riff and infectious chorus holds sway.
While I was feeling a bit subdued like everyone else stuck at home listening to this album cheered me up and reminded me of what being at a live show is like. The recording’s are natural and raw without being too rough to take on the ear. We may not be able to go to real rock or punk shows at the moment but this might be the next best thing. The heaviness of the album might help you to get that anger out, while the lightness and joy in the party choruses might remind you that life IS worth living and what we may all be able to do again one day, soon as it’s safe.