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23 April 2003: The Wildhearts - Rock City, Nottingham, England, UK

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Watching the mighty Real Madrid give the red Manc scum another lesson in how to play football or going to see the support band, Amen, was an unexpected dilemma at the start of the night. It was solved, as is so often the case, by a compromise; we watched Ronaldo score a glorious hat-trick inside an hour to effectively kill off the tie before wandering up to Rock City in time to catch the last two or three songs from Amen.

There's not much to say about Amen really - they were okay, the drummer gave it loads, and they sounded more punky and less thrashy than I expected but in my opinion, they lacked catchy tunes. Or maybe it's just me getting old and not being into what the kids are into anymore.

The Wildhearts came on stage around 10pm and opened up with the classic "I Wanna Go Where The People Go" while the crowd went predictably mental. After the song, Ginger apologised for the late start and said that they would need to cut out the chat with the audience if they were to finish at a decent hour which was a shame because listening to Ginger is normally quite amusing for many differing reasons. The next few songs passed by in an increasingly alcoholic blur, thanks to above-average bar service for once, and may have included some, all or none of the following; "TV Tan", "Sick of Drugs", "Suckerpunch", "Stormy in the North, Karma in the South", "Caffeine Bomb", "Vanilla Radio", "OCD", "My Baby Is A Headfuck" - you get the idea.

Danny's replacement on bass - a big, bald, bad Jon Poole from Silverginger 5 - fitted in well and it wouldn't surprise me if he ends up as more than just a temporary fixture, although I would be delighted if Danny proved me wrong. Everyone else was . . . well, good but not great, I guess.

Which brings me on to my customary whinge. Again, maybe it's me getting old but the gig wasn't quite as good and energetic as I've seen them play in the past. Songs like "Jonesing for Jones" and "Caprice" aren't bad but there are plenty of other (better) tunes that I would liked to have heard instead. Perhaps I'm looking back at their previous shows through rose-tinted glasses - possibly. Perhaps the band fancied doing some different songs, rather than simply copying the format of previous tours - probably. Fair enough.

For the encore, they finished with three crackers; "29x The Pain", "Sky Babies" and "Love U Til I Don't" so I left happy despite my moans. At the end of the day, this gig was passable for what it was, the first proper show at the start of a tour. I'm sure they'll improve over the next few dates and possibly even get on stage a little earlier in the evening to avoid having to race through the set. Either way, The Wildhearts still have enough great songs in their locker to make even an average gig worthwhile.

Overall, and continuing to flog the football parlance angle, it looked like the band were making a comeback after a long lay-off through injury and hadn't yet quite found their stride, battling away to a 1-0 home win. Even so, The Wildhearts remain this country's musical equivalent of Real Madrid - mighty and always a pleasure to watch.

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© JimBob, livemusicreview.co.uk

The views expressed in these reviews do not necessarily reflect those of the livemusicreview.co.uk team.

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