Gig review: Wedding Present/St. Jude’s Infirmary
Edinburgh Liquid Rooms, October 24, 2007
In 1986, NME released their now-legendary compilation cassette C86, which compiled twenty-two then up and coming bands on indie labels. Though there were some who did ‘cross-over’ and sign to major labels (Soup Dragons, Fuzzbox), this was symbolic for defining the ‘indie’ sound as well as attitude, and makes an interesting companion to their 1981 cassette c81 (which had featured the likes of Orange Juice, Scritti Politti, Aztec Camera and the Raincoats). In 2007, there are only four of those bands still around and I am kinda proud that, considering I was only nine when C86 was released, I have seen all four: Primal Scream, Half Man Half Biscuit, the Pastels…and The Wedding Present.
The following year, the Wedding Present, by now very much NME and Peel favourites (they are just behind The Smiths and The Fall in terms of most votes ever in the annual Festive Fifty) released their debut, George Best. Fourteen gorgeously spiky songs about love and frustration, it has become widely regarded as a classic. And it’s this we have come to celebrate.
If anyone had told me that Saint Jude’s Infirmary were supporting tonight, I would have tried to have got there earlier. When Mrs. 17 Seconds and I arrive the band are onstage, instantly recognisable, very bloody loud and playing to a room that isn’t terribly responsive. If they play ‘the Church Of John Coltrane’ or ‘Goodbye Jack Vetriano’ then they do so before I arrive. The band are currently recording their second album which is due out next year. It might seem an odd choice to be supporting The WEedding Present, but songs like ‘American Sonar’ actually have quite a weddoes influence. They finsih with ‘All My Rowdy Friends Have Gone Away’ by which time the venue has filled up nicely and the crowd are much more appreciative.
For the headliners, Mrs. 17 Seconds and I are joined by Mr. Toad, of Song, By Toad fame (if you haven’t read his blog, you really should). The Wedding Present have a hugs following out there still, and if it’s not the original Gedge-Solowka-Gregory-Charman lineup, it really doesn’t seem to matter. Mr. Gedge is adored by his public (providing they don’t call him Gedgie, it seems, quite understandably!) They don’t go straight into George Best era stuff, but treat us to half a dozen songs beforehand, including ‘Brassneck’ ”Convertible’ and ‘Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah’ and a new song called ‘Don’t Take Me Home Until I’m Very Drunk.’ Gedge winds the audience up by saying ‘Good Evening Glasgow’ (believe me, there’s a lot of rivalry between us and them). When the opening chords to ‘Everyone Thinks He Looks Daft’ start, the cheer joy of everyone around you rmeinds you just how important and great this band is. When they get to ‘My Favourite Dress’ I try hard not to dance like an idiot up there on the balcony, but I give up, or give in rather, and Mrs. 17 Seconds smiles indulgently. There is just so bounce and fun in these songs. Down there on the dancefloor the audience -many of whom may very well have seen them on tour twenty years ago, are showing that age need be no barrier to moshing (though your humble correspondant gave up seven years ago after a Cypress Hill set at a festival).
In true Wedding Present style, they don’t play any encores, but they do play ‘Kennedy’ which gets perhaps the best reception of the night, especially the ‘Too Much Apple Pie’ bit(which always sounded slightly friendlier than the You! Fat!Bastards! chant at Carter USM gigs).
They played for an hour and a half, but it passed in a pleasant blur of joy and friendly chanting. May they be with us for many years yet. And if they would like to tour Bizarro and Seamonsters to mark those anniversaries over the coming years, I’ll get my diary out now…
If you haven’t bought George Best, you really should. This should whet your appetite…
Wedding Present -’Everyone Thinks He Looks Daft.’ mp3
Wedding Present -’My Favourite Dress.’ mp3
Wedding Present -’You Can’t Moan Can You?’ mp3
And two Saint Jude’s Infirmary tracks, (even if they didn’t play them last night):
Saint Jude’s Infirmary -’Goodbye Jack Vetriano.’ mp3
Saint Jude’s Infirmary -’The Church Of John Coltrane.’ mp3