The Wedding Present At the Crocodile, Seattle | 21 April 2010
A few years ago The Wedding Present played a set of shows celebrating the 20th anniversary of their debut album George Best where they played the entire record at each gig. Those were exclusively UK gigs, since George Best was only available as an import in the US when it came out and consequently never gained much notoriety over here. It is now the 20th anniversary of the band’s second (excluding their Ukrainian dalliance) album Bizarro, and David Gedge and his current incarnation of the Wedding Present are doing the same celebration of their better known (at least in the US), record. Bizarro was the first I’d ever heard of the Wedding Present back in 1990. It was the post-Smiths era and lonely kids everywhere were in search of a band to take their place. The Wedding Present were sensitive, but with a rough side. Gedge’s gruff voice singing about betrayal, unrequited love and apple pie juxtaposed with the band’s aggressive, jangling guitars seemed to fit perfectly into my life.
Wednesday night The Wedding Present brought their nostalgia show to the Crocodile, and considering that the record is 20 years old, the crowd at the Croc didn’t appear too aged. We didn’t get Bizarro right at first, Gedge and company warmed up with a smattering of old and new songs which acted as kind of a warm up to playing the album. Everyone Thinks He Looks Daft, Corduroy and Queen From Outer Space were early set highlights with Gedge using these songs to loosen up his strumming hand. They also did two new songs, I Wake Up Screaming and Deer Caught In Headlights. I Wake Up Screaming suffered from it’s lyrics referencing, of all things, an iPhone (perhaps he’s getting product placement money, a possible new revenue stream for musicians), while Deer Caught In Headlights was more to my liking building into big roar at the end.
After six songs, it was finally time for what everyone was there for, Bizarro. The PA bellowed with various presenters announcing “The Wedding Present” and finally culminating with John Peel’s voice uttering the band’s name and we were off into the jangly throws of Brassneck. Side one rushed by with fast paced Crushed and Thanks, the jangle of No, and the crushing pop of Kennedy (Gedge jokingly said he thought it was most definitely a b-side when he wrote it).
Side two of Bizarro is a bit more dense with no song under four minutes except for Be Honest. Songs like Granadaland, Bewitched and Take Me! are all lengthy jams that probably try the band’s endurance but were a lot of fun to hear live. The more straightforward crowd pleasers like Kennedy and Brassneck have made regular appearances in Wedding Present set lists over the years but I had never these longer side two songs played live. Gedge’s hand went into blur mode on his guitar, strumming faster and faster on each song. Drummer Charlie Layton was a machine at the back, playing these fast songs precisely and tirelessly. Take Me! was glorious in it’s nine plus minutes. It was the highlight of the set for me, and took on a slightly different feel than the album version. Maybe I had just never noticed before this night, but the song sounded like it could have been on the first Feelies album. The Wedding Present have always been able to distill their influence down to a point where they’re unrecognizable, but hearing Take Me! kind of shed a little light on what made and still makes the Wedding Present tick. Next year marks the 20th anniversary of Seamonsters, I hope Gedge and company see fit to celebrate that album as they have the previous two, because as good as Bizarro is, Seamonsters is arguably their pinnacle.