by Rob Jones
There are many who are created, then there are the countless plagiarists but the bright beacons who do not follow but lead the pack of pop are a unique breed. Talent is not always the key to success and too many independent islands of immense influence do not get on to the map of the mainstream Ladies and gents…..across six decades – Wreckless Eric has been pushing the envelope on times from the peripheries of the peripheries. He has dipped his big toe in to the commercial zone but his canon of work should have him sainted.
In the last several years Cardiff has welcomed a range of artists that I never expected to see in a here and now Welsh capital. The likes of Chic, Nick Cave, Tricky, Billy Idol and The Cure have played a variety of venues – and, one of the original 1977 ‘Live Stiffs Live’ contingent has joined that elite crowd. The opportunity to witness the erudite Eric in the intimate surroundings of the Moon Club, Cardiff was a treat on a soaking, sorry Saturday which was soon set to drain us of an hour of daylight as the clocks sat ready to go back. People needed a lift and they were going to get it!
The new album – Leisureland takes its audience on another lyrical and musical adventure. This worldly warrior is never constant but always consistent and the punters are totally transfixed. The man who continues to astound with his originality and stands outside the call to categorise maintains his momentum as a live entity. Whether absorbing a library of language or following the range of rhythms the public are never in one place and a loyal fanbase are entertained by the songs and the stories. It is not all old school at stage front as well and a younger set have obviously done their homework and realises that this was a rare opportunity to sample a cult icon in action.
Armed with six strings enterprising Eric contorted tunes out of his instrument that move from the charming to the challenging and he powers his playing prowess to outer galactic boundaries. When it comes to vocabulary regal Wreckless knows how to tell a tale and even when not accompanied by music he proves himself to be a worthy raconteur. It is incredible to think that this whole event was led by one person with a selection of guitars and equipment to aid the performance.
The songs are interspersed with comical tales of his own experiences including: A range of self-deprecation, an under the influence appearance on 70s kids show – Tiswas, Shakin’ Stevens on a motorbike riding through a TV studio, watching a nascent Hawkwind while he was perched on their equipment, a dodgy San Diego hotel and the concept of mass diarrhoea plus the outlandish behaviour of the intolerable inhabitants that occupy the House of Commons! Entertaining stuff? Yes, indeed!
Then those tunes – from the recent opal offerings right back to the high and mighty trailblazing anthem – Whole Wide World. To the fore was the strength of the current single Badhat Town (recently seen on BBC via Later with Jools) plus other 2023 offerings, including – Southern Rock, Drag Time, Standing Water, High Seas (Won & Lost), Dial Painters (Radium Girls) and The Old Versailles. To add to this the 2019 long player Transience was also explored through Father to the Man, Dead End, Creepy People (in the middle of the Night), California/Handyman. Then there was other more contemporary colossus in the form of: Days of my Life and Same which showed a huge sway to a post millennium industry . Even though there is so much Midas from both sides of the 20thand 21stcentury from a back catalogue of an international treasure. The approach indicates Eric is concentrating on the now and the future rather than doffing a cap to the past – which can be the case for many of his peers.
A journey over from his home in the USA for British dates, a day trip in from Crawley, a show in the Welsh capital and then it was then on to the merchandise where the hero had to go into sales mode and mingle with his faithful (including having a chat and photograph with yours truly). Next, it is off to a Bristol gig before mass mileage around a series of English venues. This endeavour shows that the aural outsiders have to put in a shift to earn a crust and we bless this particular guru of grooves. There are other recording projects underway, so it is a busy time for a survivor who has a supreme spirit to deliver his pristine product. It is all worthwhile for those in attendance and the verdict for both stage and studio is – ‘Epic Eric’!