WHITFIELD CRANE REVIEW NOTTINGHAM ROCK CITY
Coming on like a grown up Beavis, in shorts & flannel shirt, Ugly Kid Joe’s Whitfield Crane starts his first ever solo tour at Nottingham’s mighty Rock City. Whitfield’s voice is still one of rock’s all-time greats, right up there with Ozzy Osbourne and Chris Cornell RIP. The tour posters promise he’ll play “All the songs” from Ugly Kid Joe, Life of Agony, Medication and many more. That’s a lot of songs. And in the Rock City basement it’s a privileged and intimate affair. “This is rad” Whitfield exclaims, before admitting his new band have only played together twice before, him having just flown in from California. Backed by Matt Reynolds and Tom Marsh from Nottingham’s own Haggard Cat on guitar and drums, completing the line up is Slave To Gravity’s Toshi on bass, you’d barely know this was the 3rd time they’d played together.
Before launching into Another Animal (one of his many supergroups) Whit starts rifling through sheets of A4, “You’d think I’d remember the lyrics” he jokes, but rather than feel lazy, this honesty serves to break down the wall between performer and audience. A rare opportunity to see one of rock’s greats at close range, with people travelling from as far as Holland just for the gig, with Whit hilariously wanting to know “Have you got weed?”
“I watched the news today, what a fucked up country. Who’s the guy with the funny hair? What a dick!”
The heavier material that launches the show, serves as a reminder of the power and metal in Whit’s voice. The band then slow down to reveal their softer side, showcasing a handful of Richards/Crane songs from the excellent ‘World Stands Still’ album written with Godsmack’s Lee Richards. During this they descend into laughter when Toshi forgets his lyrics during his only solo moment. This is how all gigs should be, hanging out, jamming, legends in your living room.
Throughout the gig Whit mocks the English accent, but that’s okay, the English deserved to be mocked. It must be nice for Americans to know they’re no longer the stupidest nation in the world. “I watched the news today, what a fucked up country. Who’s the guy with the funny hair? What a dick!” Whit observes to a big cheer. He then compares our new/failing PM to a Trump that’s “kinda funny” to which the audience jeers, proof that the joke that is Boris Johnson is wearing thinner than the Etonian’s hair.
Once again the Nottingham accent proved hard on the American ear, “Marry a cock!?” came back a puzzled reply when “Mario Kart” was randomly shouted at him.
“We’re not really a band, just a group of guys playing songs from my past… Come back and see us at the end of the tour, we’ll be awesome!” They already are. Whit then says hello to a girl in the audience who he met on the on train, having asked her along to the gig. Amazing.
Then all of a sudden, after a blasting through 15 songs that celebrate his career, it’s over. What I say next comes as a fan of Whitfield’s, and as excellent as the gig was, in an event billed as “All the songs of Ugly Kid Joe”, it was a shame he barely played any of them. Reduced to one obscure UKJ song, if he’d have played any one of ‘Everything About You’, ‘Neighbor’, ‘Goddamn Devil’ or ‘Cats in the Cradle’ it would have elevated the gig to the heavens. It would also have been a song that both he and the audience knew intimately. Another amazing set at the best venue in the country, with a twinge of disappointment that hopefully, for long time fans at least, will be addressed as the tour goes on.