Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Wedding Present Delivers in Derby

Nottingham correspondent MisterPrime makes a triumphant return to tell us about seeing the Wedding Present last month. I'm particularly interested in his review of the proceedings because I will be witnessing the same 85-minute set when Gedge and Co. cross the Atlantic this spring. Unlike the seasoned author, this will be my first time to ever see the Weddoes, and I'm pretty damn excited. Take it away, MisterPrime...

The Wedding Present
The Venue
Derby, 7th December 2016

"We had all these guitars and we just thrashed away at it..." -- David Gedge, 1992

The Wedding Present last night in Derby was a pretty good gig all told, what with it being the ten millionth time I've been to see them and everything. Actually, I did start doing some research, and it turns out it's not nearly so many times as I might think, though it's well into double figures, which isn't so bad considering they called it a day for about 10 years in the mid-'90s, and I never saw Cinerama live. I got a bit bogged down to be honest trying to find evidence that they played at the University Refectory in Leeds in the late '80s as it was one place I was sure I'd seen them that the gig-list on the Scopitones' Web site seemed to have missed out, and I was all triumphant when I found a ticket in an old scrapbook until I went back to find it there clear as day on the 'Net all along (not that I was going to send them an email or anything, oh no, I'm not that sad, ahem...! And anyway I'm sure they played there twice! At least!)

I even enjoyed the whole bus-train-finding-a-venue-I've-not-been-too-before adventure of it all. I liked the venue too (apart from the fact that it is itself called 'The Venue', which I find strangely annoying) -- which is in an interesting if not strictly salubrious-feeling part of the City and seems to specialise in wedding receptions, tribute bands and obscure '80s and '90s comebacks (Toploader, anyone...!?). It had a bit of a Working Men's Club feel, with its ticket table in the hall and big long bar against one wall, whilst the room itself was big and slightly industrial, but the sound quality and view of the stage were excellent.

The Wedding Present themselves were in fine fettle, and Mr. Gedge has certainly got the hang by now of putting together a set list that balances the requirements of the fans with the need -- presumably -- to keep things fresh and interesting for himself and the band. Opening with a slightly unexpected (by me at least) "Give My Love To Kevin", there was an interesting mix of old and new: Some of "the hits" but not all (that's "Brassneck", then, but no "Kennedy"), the odd obscurity ("Mothers", anyone? A "Dalliance" b-side if I'm not mistaken) and even a surprisingly jaunty, bright take on "Go Out And Get 'Em Boy" -- a song which first graced a Weddoes' gig a few years even before I did! It was actually the newest songs and the oldest that seemed the most committed and muscular; presumably the band have been rehearsing the 'George Best'-era material ahead of next year's '30th Anniversary' gigs -- though, despite Gedge's assertions that those will be the last ever outings for these particular tunes, it seems a bit unlikely that he'll never be tempted to play "My Favourite Dress" again. It was a storming version of that particular fan favourite that climaxed this gig (albeit three songs from the end, though the timing did work well for those of us with a train to catch) -- there was barely a dry eye in the house.

It often seemed as if Gedge spent much of the '90s trying to exorcise his early-indie guitar demons in favour of something he deemed more "pop" when many fans just wanted more and more frantic strumathons. In a 1992 fanzine interview I was involved in he referred to 'George Best' as "absolutely dreadful" and, in retrospect, I imagine plans were already afoot to storm the charts with his 'Hit Parade' project -- a logical "pop"-step that led in turn to Cinerama and the eventual breakup of the original Wedding Present lineup. My point is it seems as if it is only recently that all of these earlier strands have been rewoven finally into a more integrated, mature pop sound. There's a lovely, sprightly take on "Something and Nothing" (actually recorded in October 2007) on the new 'Marc Riley Sessions' album that demonstrates this perfectly, and it's just the kind of confident fluid approach that makes the shows these days a joy to attend.

Thanks, MisterPrime. I was going to save this one until later in my vinyl-ripping series, but it seems appropriate to pull it out now. This was a 7" Mrs. LTL gave me for Christmas. What a gal!

"Go Out and Get 'Em Boy"

More Reviews From MisterPrime
Allo Darlin'


The Swede said...

Excellent review MisterPrime. It's been several years since I last saw the band and, like you, I can't quite be sure of the total number of times I have actually have seen them - it's a lot less than you though, that much I know. Time for me to check Scopitones I guess.

TheRobster said...

Only saw them last year playing the new album start to finish. Just booked tickets to see them on the George Best 30th Anniversary tour. That will probably be the 8th or 9th time I'll have seen them...

drew said...

Excellent post.

I'm well into double figures too and they have never disappointed. Saw them in Edinburgh 6 days before the Derby gig and they were great, although not impressed with the venue and the amount of bloody talking but that seems inevitable these days, sadly. Told Gedge at the end that Glasgow is always better as I got him to sign yet another T-shirt for Leo. Looking forward to the ABC in May.

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