I am writing about The Wedding Present sat alone outside on a dark night with a pint of bitter, this seems the right thing to do. My wife is out and the babysitter isn’t expecting anyone home so early, so I think it is better to drink alone in the dark.
Ever get the feeling you are in the wrong queue? Waiting to get into The Wedding Present, the middle aged men were swearily, noisily, exuberantly bantering and goading each other in that “we’re all having a jolly time now, but we may not all survive this night without some time in A&E” way that has a dose of threat in its laughter. Sure, I was excited about seeing The Wedding Present too, but I was keeping it all in.
Then, we reached the bag check and frisk. I took my Observer Book of Modern Art out from my duffle coat as it had quite sharp edges and may be confused for a hardback weapon of threat during a frisk. Next thing you know, I’d be pinned to the ground by a man in a yellow anorak of security, screaming that I must explain images of Rothko if I am to live. It was at frisk point that we found out, with some relief, that we were in the wrong queue. This queue was for Definitely Maybe, one of the world’s leading Oasis tribute bands. I told the man behind us who also looked like a balding, bespectacled, sociology lecturer that he may be in the wrong queue too. He was. Relieved, we went downstairs to The Wedding Present queue. It was more peaceful. We didn’t need to make raucous noise, the band would fulfil that part of the Saturday night bargain. Walking through the foyer, the sound of the Oasis night bled through the walls, it was going to get messy.
I am not sure which recording of a poetry recital Definitely Maybe began with (my money is on Yeats), but The Wedding Present began with Philip Larkin reading Going, Going…
“I thought it would last my time
The sense that, beyond the town
There would always be fields and farms
Where the village louts could climb”
Larkin suits David Gedge well. The lost or broken loves, the graffiti on walls, the sadness of landscapes.
I have played the new Wedding Present album more than any of their other albums since Seamonsters. I agree with the music paper reviewer of 1991 who wrote that if The Wedding Present had come from North West America, or even South East America, they would be more revered in their homeland.
Gedge looks like the boxer brother of Gary Numan (and a boxer who never lost a bout) and the warmth in his spoken voice between songs has a hint of John Shuttleworth, and I see all these things as good things.
This is not a hits set, and I hear some men loudly explaining in droning voices to bored wives that they are perturbed by the lack of Kennedy and Everybody Thinks He Looks Daft. The guitar is still loud and choppy, brittle, yet like granite too. Then, something with a hint of the complexity and beauty of the Durutti Column moves further to the foreground. I am particularly taken by the drummer, who is in possession of protean facial gymnastics.
I want to hear more of the new album, but this Saturday night crowd need raucous, but David Gedge does not solely follow the crowd. He has proved enough in his career not have to perpetually bow to the disciple demand, and many around me seem happy with that. I wish some of burlier fans realised that their girth diameter had increased since their last visit, as the eagerness of some of the rotund to move forward left bruised individuals in their wake. The lack of stage diving was a relief.
Audiences demand the songs of their youth, the songs that briefly have a hallucinogenic quality that will make them feel young again. They could feel younger still if, rather than shackling themselves to the hits of the past, they keep moving on, just as The Wedding Present continue to do so. Progression doesn’t mean you have to leave the old behind, but it gives you more to look forward to. (I should also mention the support band, Melys, who were very good too. i would have enjoyed seeing more, but was stopped due to my poor choice of queues.)
I was in a queue on Monday too, the urgent queue of Christmas parcels. I had some Book Shambles Book Parcel prizes to send (and YOU TOO COULD BE IN WITH A CHANCE BY GOING TO… ). A young woman was stopped for a chat by an elder who didn’t notice, or didn’t want to notice, that she was in a hurry. The young woman had been to see her daughter in the school nativity play. I know, and you thought they had been banned and replaced with a play about assassinating Salman Rushdie. “I thought your little boy was very good as the bleeding and dying Melvin Bragg. Such a pity the one playing the Ayatollah kept picking his nose”. Her child had got the star part of Mary. The old lady seemed very pleased and said, “you must be so glad she’s still a virgin”. Then, she laughed. Odd.
The Wedding Present’s new album is here.
My last live DVD is here (4 shows included) (you can download it too)