Archive for the 'wedding present' Category

Gig Review: The Wedding Present, Manchester Academy, 26th October 2007

The Wedding Present setlist for Manchester Academy gig on 26th October 2007I’ve grumbled about my advancing years on this blog in the past and, thanks to evenings like this, I’m totally over it. The Wedding Present’s latest tour is in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the release of their classic debut album, George Best, an album I remember buying 20 years ago and one which has clearly stood the test of time.

It seems that many of the band’s erstwhile fans have also stood the test of time as the “newly refurbished” (portaloos, entrance through a gap in the hoardings, only one bar open) Academy was packed to its shiny new rafters with fortysomethings intent on reliving the glory days of a nascent British indie scene. As the band launched into the opening “Blonde” from Seamonsters – and I don’t think I could have chosen a better opener myself – thus the crowd launched into each other, bodies flying up and down, side to side, large bodies mostly, fortysomething years of chips, beer and Sunday morning fry-ups; a huge, heaving, fleshy quagmire.

I stayed on the periphery at first, fending off elbows and shoulders as a sublime Brassneck increased the intensity before a new song (which may have been called “I’m Always Like This When I’m Drunk”) and a Cinerama number calmed things down a little. A couple of songs later and it was time for the main event of the evening. A girl in a rabbit costume holding some large numbered cards lead a countdown and produced the final card showing the George Best album cover. It took four words from David Gedge – “oh why do you…” – to convince me to join the throng. It was a reaction I had not anticipated and one that I barely seemed to have control over, but it was the right thing to do. Having seen The Wedding Present almost 30 times, the first being way back in May 1986 when they supported James at the Leeds Ritzy, I’ve done some serious moshing to these songs in the past but nowadays at other gigs I feel quite self-conscious about letting myself go in the company of (usually) much younger audience members, afraid that I might look like a dad dancing at a wedding, or throw my back out, or both. In a very good-natured crowd of people of roughly the same age this didn’t seem to be a problem and the rest of the gig was a blast as the whole of the album was played out in order.

David Gedge is the only remaining member of the band from 20 years ago but the current line-up did a fine job of producing what were pretty faithful renditions of the originals, which meant plenty of the Weddoes’ lightning fast guitar strumming, which is always a wonder to behold, though I do miss the days of Gedge and Pete “Grapper” Solowka egging each other on to go faster still. Pretty much all of George Best was a highlight but while I’ve heard old favourites like “A Million Miles” and “My Favourite Dress” plenty of times before it was the less fĂȘted likes of “Shatner”, “You Can’t Moan Can You” and the utterly brilliant “Anyone Can Make A Mistake” that made my night. Listening to these songs again and its fairly obvious that Gedge is master at what he does. The lyrics – simple thoughts, conversations and observations – fall effortlessly into the melodies with nary an awkward rhyme or poor scan. The songs are genius in their simplicity and in these times where the likes of Alex Turner, Lily Allen and Kate Nash (for fuck’s sake!) are celebrated for their (often extremely dubious) lyrical prowess, one wonders what the reaction to George Best might be had it come out in 2007.

The gig was rounded off with a frantic “Kennedy” and then “Flying Saucer,” by which time Gedge’s voice was close to collapse, as were much of the audience, and they called it a day, leaving us trawling our failing memories for the year that Bizarro was released. And Seamonsters

The Wedding Present – Shatner

The Wedding Present – Anyone Can Make A Mistake

The Wedding Present – You Can’t Moan Can You?

Gig Goer of the Week part 8: The Wedding Present, George Best Anniversary Tour

Last night we took ourselves down to see the Wedding Present on their George Best 20th Anniversary tour. Now, I have a funny relationship with the Weddoes. I have seen them live repeatedly and always enjoy the shows, but I never listen to them on CD. So I’m an anomaly in the crowd in that I do genuinely love them, but I don’t know the song titles (with a few obvious exceptions) and I don’t know the words. Not that this has anything to do with anything though.

I tend to like Wedding Present crowds in that they’re all about 10-15 years older than me, they are rabid fans and even though the mosh pit is pretty intense, it’s also pretty friendly. Last night, when my friend and I decided to risk the barrier, we were taking this fact as a given. As always, however, there’s always one (or 2) idiots…. The girl stood to the left of my friend was so drunk before the first of two opening bands even finished that she could barely stand up and was slopping her pint all over herself. Nonetheless she demanded more and off to the bar her suffering boyfriend went. When she demanded another, while clinging onto him for her life, however, swaying and banging into my friend, he finally refused. A fight ensued and she stormed off. He let her go and we ended up getting eased into where she was standing by the crowd. Her boyfriend didn’t make a move to stop it. When she came back about 20 minutes later, still angry and with another drink (how she got served is beyond me), the poor guy ended up having to move back, from his really great spot, to appease her. Frankly, he should have told her to piss off, as there is no excuse for that level of inebriation that early in the night, and there is no excuse for letting your inability to know your limits ruin other people’s night. I can’t imagine she lasted more than 2 songs into the main event.

Naturally, the moment they moved a group of big guys replaced her. We were a bit worried, although I figured they weren’t jostling, so they’d probably be fine, just enthusiastic. And then their single female friend turned up with a bag slung across her front that I swear must have contained a small child it was so large. On top of this monstrosity she’d put her jacket because gosh she couldn’t affect her outfit by tying it around her waist. As The Ledge had abandoned us to chat to some other friends who were a bit farther back, we had no protection between our backs and heads and the world’s largest handbag. The thing is, moshing bodies aren’t so bad. People on the whole don’t want to batter you in a pit and most of the pushing is down to people landing funny and the dancing, not deliberate attempts to injure or remove you. But when you wear a bag while jumping up and down the bag flies upwards and outwards and pretty much batters anyone nearby in a way you falling against them slightly does not. So there we were as the band came on being beaten with a handbag that actually weighed more than I do. Luckily for us, the other physics rule governing handbags in a mosh pit was in our favour – bag on string gets caught between moving bodies and inevitably it goes in one direction while you go in another. So she didn’t last long.

This is where the fun really started though as the band launched into the start-to-finish delivery of George Best: we were suddenly swamped by men, much bigger than us, about as enthusiastic as a crowd gets, and all jumping up and down with gusto. Now, there’s nothing quite like the experience of being in a friendly pit and this was no exception. Hands came round us at the barrier as people tried to stay afloat, apologies and promises to make sure we didn’t fall, giants tapping me on the head to tell me how “hot” the bassist is, blokes screaming the words and punching the air. It hurt like hell but the number of people around me (and it was changing rapidly as everyone fell about) who kept trying to keep me on my feet is one of the things that makes the bad people and idiots at gigs stand out so much. The press during “Kennedy” at the end was possibly the most physically painful thing I’ve ever experienced at a gig (and I can feel it today as I type this, it feels like I’ve been kicked in the chest), but someone had hold of me the whole time, and after the show everybody around us was apologising for pushing and asking if we were ok, which makes a huge difference in the atmosphere and the quality of the whole night. When you’re in a crush by the barrier watching something that unites everybody in the room, why would you be a selfish fucktard when you can spread the good atmosphere by being friendly, aware of others, and part of what’s going on around you, rather than being there in spite of it?

It only takes a little consideration, some kindness to your gig neighbours and the realisation that everybody is there for the same thing to make the difference between a good gig and a bad one, and sets a really good fanbase apart from, well, a fanbase that no band deserves.