The Wilders, Classic Grand, Glasgow. 15th May 2011.

Kansas City band The Wilders are becoming such frequent visitors to Glasgow that going to see them has become almost akin to popping down to your local to see the resident band on a weekend. This was the fourth time this reviewer has seen them in the space of around 18 months and looking around at the audience there were several others obviously in the same boat. Having said that each show has had its own character with the one constant being the fire and occasional ferocity with which they deliver their set. Their last appearance here was at Celtic Connections playing to around a thousand folk in the Old Fruitmarket. Tonight their audience numbered in the one hundred plus but there was no difference in their approach or delivery and the intimacy of the smaller venue added to the connection that many of the audience have with this fine band.
With a new album on the shelves (review following soon) there was a slew of new songs, some of which were previewed at the Celtic Connections show. Having heard the album however one was struck by the impact the live delivery has with a song like L.A., a frenzied enough song on the album delivered in a maelstrom with fiddler Betse Ellis in particular screeching like the proverbial devil’s elbow.
In fact all of the songs from the new album gained impressively tonight, partly perhaps from only a slight listening to the CD but there is no doubt that the Wilders thrive on the stage. Whether delivering tender folk songs such as singer Ike Sheldon’s acclaimed Hi Little Darlin’ and the new album’s bitter sweet This Old Town, the honky tonk reveries penned by Phil Wade or the muscular roots rock from bassist Nate Gawron the difference is akin to that of seeing a favourite movie in high definition for the first time. Spectacular.
Highlights of the show included an inspired rendition of My Final Plea where the band conjured up the ghost of Hank Williams and several “shitkickin” (Ike’s description) hoedowns including their always crowd pleasing Keep my Skillet Good and Greasy.
To encore The Wilders invited the support band, The Dirty Beggars, a fine young crew from Peebles who played a rousing set earlier, to stand in front of the stage and deliver an Old Crow Medicine show song, Wagon Wheel which ultimately was a fine end to a fine night.


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