Monday, 4 November 2013
Review of The Wedding Present at Shepherd's Bush Empire, London, on November 1, 2013
I used to love The Wedding Present. I played their wonderful George Best album all the time when it came out in 1987. The combination of desperately bittersweet lyrics and three-chord guitar riffs created some of the best indie pop love songs ever written.
When I was asked to write the weekly Rock On column at the Telegraph & Argus in Bradford in '88 I upset the city's majority of heavy rock fans by insisting on featuring a David Gedge story every week. It didn't help that they were from deadly rivals Leeds down the M606 but that was close enough for me.
Their albums and single after single were great, but their live sound was even better - fuller, feistier and less timid than the recorded WP. One of the happiest, joyful, grin-daft gigs I ever saw featured the band jumping up and down in a circle on stage at the Academy in Manchester to the magnificent chorus of Brassneck. I even went to see their roisterous Ukrainian incarnation somewhere in the ever-dimming past.
I also had the pleasure of interviewing wry, spry David a few times. When I once unwisely complained that they'd run out of Large tee-shirts at one gig he told me to lose some weight and buy a medium. Wise words.
So what a treat to see the band just down the road on Friday. This was the Hit Parade tour, the chronological playback of the dozen singles they charted in 1991. By then I'd left the newspaper and was busy getting married so I wasn't paying full attention to their oeuvre. It was a joy to hear it, see it and feel it lifting the burden of years off the grown-up indie kids in the crowd who came to London but never forgot how to hit the north. There were plenty of Large and Extra Large tee-shirts on sale this time - the George Best version looks even better now than it did then.
Gedge is still the coolest indie kid on the block, Katharine Wallinger is the best bass guitar singer currently wearing a dress and the bonus live addition to the Hit Parade of Brassneck still raises neck hair (all that's left for a lot of fans) and beckons goose bumps from first chord to last.
I'd watch them every week if I could.