The 2010’s have been pretty much one steady decline for society when you think about it.
We’ve had London riots, an economy that remains in shock 8 years after it’s collapse, a steady cultural change from long term (secure) employment to Americanised reduction in workers rights, zero hour contracts, real wage declines for two decades, a failing health system, and an education system that appears to have found a way to steadily overwork teachers whilst reducing teaching standards at the same time.
As a reposte, it could be argued that 2016 did, finally, see a demonstration of anger from the general public. Enough became enough. Seemingly pushed into a corner, the votes for Brexit and Trump appear to be less political than idealistic; almost all sides arguing for the same thing – a change in how democracy and society are working – but unable to see the commonalities in our ideals.
A cause for this inability to find common ground surely comes from the increase in post-truth, muddled, reporting and the transformation of major news channels from owners of (actual) news to presenters of news as entertainment. We used to talk about ‘art for art’s sake’; perhaps now we need to talk about ‘news for news’ sake’.
To undivide us it appears that now, more than ever, we need forward thinking, politicised, activism based on good reporting and strong analysis of genuine data.
In a recent (pre-Trump) key-note, Kim Gordon commented that punk rock was born out of a need for similar activism in the 70s and 80s. She moved this forward by suggesting that now- when there is more than ever a need to turn frustration into positive, inspiring, action – we seem unable to make punk rock. We’ve left it looking for a good place under the lighting. We’ve let it get out of shape.
If that’s true, then someone forgot to tell the Wildhearts. Almost 30 years into their career, it’s fair to say that they’ve never let themselves go out of shape.
Like the Clash, the Wildhearts never seem to wain from their own brand of activism; the belief in the transformative power of punk rock and the importance of harmonious call-and-response singing.
Ginger – like Warwick and Malin who i’ve referenced a lot this year- possibly too much- symbolises all that is right about music; his determination, attitude, level of anger, and humour provide the perfect set of behaviours for a man providing both social commentary and a call to alms. Like the perfect stand-up comedian, Ginger uses various interpersonal tactics to reach the audience, sometimes that’s anger, sometime’s that’s conversation and other times that’s humour (ask anyone about the moment he stopped the show to argue with the bouncers, only to end up praising them).
Songs like ‘People go’ and ‘Geordie in Wonderland’ (the closest thing the good people of Newcastle will ever have to their own ‘Fairy tale of New York’) are timely reminders that our day to day, often trivial, issues pail into insignifance when we consider the collective challenges that we face. The Wildhearts seem destined to link punk rock to activism for as long as they stay with us. In the days when some bands have forgotten how to do this, we should cherish the ones who still do.