A fixture on John Peel's Festive Fifty during their heyday in the late eighties and early nineties, The Wedding Present have always maintained a loyal following, even if their commercial success has been limited. The one constant force amidst the flux of changing personnel, record labels and even band name has been front man David Gedge, one of our most consistently interesting songwriters of the last 25 years.
We must be thankful that (apparently) Gedge has been disappointed in love because otherwise we would have been deprived of many fine songs; he's a poet of pessimism, either lusting after a girl who is not interested in him, stuck in a relationship with someone he wants to get away from, or expecting the sweetness of romance to go sour. The furrow that Gedge has continued to plough has proved very fertile. Both lyrically and musically, The Weddoes may not have changed very much over the years but they can still produce the goods (as in their excellent recent album Valentina).
Tonight's gig marks the end of a world tour celebrating the 21st anniversary of their third and probably best album, Seamonsters, following on from previous live performances of George Best and Bizarro. With a nice line in dry humour, Gedge introduces the band: "We are the semi-legendary Wedding Present about to delve into our enormous back catalogue." Bookending the ten tracks of Seamonsters are a number of other songs, old and new, in a tight 90-minute set. Paradoxically, the band kicks off with End Credits (which contains the classic line "The closer I get to you/The further I get away from me"), with guitarist Patrick Alexander joining drummer Charles Layton as a second percussionist. A few other songs from the new album also go down well, including The Girl From The DDR (with bassist Pepe le Moko duetting nicely with Gedge). Early single My Favourite Dress gets a positive response, whilst there is even an outing for a song written for Cinerama, Gedge's side-project which morphed back into The Wedding Present.
No doubt many in the crowd of mainly fortysomethings bought Seamonsters when it originally came out in 1991, and as the main feature of the evening it is greeted with the warm affection saved for an old friend not seen for a long time. All the one-word-titled tracks are played in order - as they should be - from Dalliance to Octopussy, with no chat between songs - though maybe there should have been a short pause between tracks 5 and 6 for full retro effect. The Weddoes don't do encores so after performing Click Click and What Have I Said Now? they leave the stage without any fuss – most bands would milk the applause for longer but their minimalist leave-taking seems to fit in with the lo fi, no frills quality of their music. Gedge's parting words, spoken in his distinctively deadpan manner, are, "See you next year for Watusi" (their fourth album) – not sure if he's joking but let's hope not.