Download 2014: The Wildhearts

The Wildhearts return to Donington Park with a set packed with familiar tunes.

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Stacked up alongside each other, the Wildhearts’ songs that make up this set sound like a proper greatest hits package, with spiky punk attitude welded to a set of tunes most songwriters should be envious of.

Vanilla Radio, Sick Of Drugs, Caffeine Bomb, Mazel Tov Cocktail, My Baby Is A Headfuck. All of them. You can hear bits of Cheap Trick, and you can hear bits of the Beatles and The Buzzcocks and the Ramones. All proper songwriters.

It feels like a big communal moment, with band and audience on precisely the same wavelength. Ginger encourages everyone to sing along, but the audience doesn’t need prompting, and it’s a sign of how well-ingrained these songs have become that the crowd often provide a chorus of backing vocals instead of reinforcing the choruses, giving an extra lift to songs that don’t necessarily need it but benefit all the same. The band are on blistering form, and Ginger fronts it all in his usual, affable manner.

By the end, it seems the entire crowd is attempting to surf over the barriers, and so they come: several men in their fifties who should possibly know better, a teenager who arrives carrying two deckchairs, and a topless gentleman sporting a stressed leather SS helmet adorned by a pair of Viking horns.It’s a gleeful finish from a band who seem to be held in genuine affection by their followers, and the feeling appears to be mutual. If The Wildhearts aren’t quite national treasures yet, they’re certainly not far off.

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.