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27 March 2006: Ginger & the Sonic Circus - Rescue Rooms, Nottingham, England, UK
This gig was meant to be at Rock City but it appeared to have been bumped around the corner to its smaller sister-venue, The Rescue Rooms. I’m not aware of any reason being given so I can only presume that it was due to low ticket sales meaning that a half-empty Rock City wasn’t considered a viable option.
Arriving mid-way through the first support act, Tim Smith (with Ginger and Jon Poole assisting on guitars), I was shocked to find the place packed but almost totally stationary. Not knowing anything about Tim Smith beforehand I can only comment on what I saw and what I saw wasn’t good. Ginger and Jon both had faces on that suggested they’d found a quid and lost a fiver while Tim was sat between them playing a bass drum and a guitar, looking like a barmy science teacher. As for the music, all I’ll say is that I think the only person who could’ve danced to the seemingly random collection of notes would’ve been Ian Curtis but he’s dead. The banter with the crowd also did nothing to change my opinion that Mr Smith was a total nutter.
Which seamlessly brings us onto the equally nutty second support act, Psycho Cyborgs. This consisted of two heavily tattooed blokes skewering themselves through the arm, cheek and stomach before passing an electrical current through the wounds. Oh, and then carrying a female dwarf off the stage, I assume by using some piercings of her own although I couldn’t quite see. Not pleasant but still less painful to watch than Tim Smith.
Ginger & The Sonic Circus came on stage to a backing track of “G.T.T.” from his latest album, Valor Del Corazon. This was no ordinary Ginger show because with 9 band members (Ginger plus 2 more guitars, 1 bass, 1 drums, 1 keyboards/percussion, 1 sax and 2 female backing singers) it truly was a bit of a circus. They opened with a great big stomper, “Ugly”, before playing a set taken almost entirely from the VDC album.
Thankfully Ginger had cheered up by now and told us that he was determined to improve his mood even further by having the occasional slurp of booze. Banter with the crowd was plentiful as usual, although unusually crowd dancing did seem minimal.
One of the biggest highlights for me was hearing the old SilverGinger5 song, “Sonic Shake”. While this new album isn’t bad I can’t ignore the fact that a lot of the songs aren’t particularly strong. They might have a Ginger-trademark good intro or catchy chorus, but the rest of the tune is often quite ordinary.
Towards the end of the show Ginger got around to introducing the 9 members of the band whilst they all jammed and, just as he warned us it might, this took some time with 6 solo’s to get through. Moments such as this, not to mention the Santana-esque instrumental bit in “10 Flaws Down”, reminded me of Spinal Tap where they covered up an absence of tunes by playing a freeform jazz odyssey. It’s a mystery to me how Ginger and co. will make money on this tour with 9 band members and I think the line-up could have been trimmed to 4 or 5 people without significantly detracting from the show.
It almost goes without saying that the biggest cheer of the night was saved for “29 x The Pain”, the old Wildhearts anthem. This is a perfect example of what Ginger used to do best – a quality song from start to finish, only a couple of minutes long, no filler, and guaranteed to get the crowd jumping.
I really hate to be anything less than complimentary about Ginger – a.k.a. God - but this show wasn’t one of his best for me, purely in terms of material. Hopefully he might get back to basics one day once he’s got this big-band phase out of his system and give us a little more quality with a little less quantity.
Approximate set-list; Ugly / Yeah, Yeah, Yeah / My Friend The Enemy / Drinking In The Daytime / This Is Only A Problem / The Drunken Lord Of Everything / 10 Flaws Down ( - even more extended than normal with reggae and rap parts) / Sonic Shake / Bulb / Only Lonely / Mother City / The Man Who Cheated Death / Encore / Don't Worry ‘Bout Me / Answering Machine (The Replacements) / Listen To The Music (Doobie Brothers) / Pump It Up (Elvis Costello) / 29 x The Pain
© JimBob, livemusicreview.co.uk
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