Following the demise of its Yorkshire leg, The Wedding Present’s bank holiday festival has expanded to a full weekend in Brighton for this year’s fifth installment. During the 80s and 90s, the Leeds group were the textbook example of British indie rock: lovelorn lyrics, northern wit, furious jangling guitars and a huge, devoted fanbase. Those excitable bowl-headed young lads who pushed The Weddoes’ early singles into the charts are now greyer and paunchier, but frontman and sole original member David Gedge still looks the same as he did batting balloons and confetti on The Chart Show 25 years ago.
The Wedding Present have previously covered their second and third albums in full here, and Saturday finds them turn the clock back further to the one they missed out, their 1987 debut ‘George Best’. Gedge and his band of southern recruits (including – conflict of interest alert – two of our old friends from Hastings) sidestep going straight into it with a bunch of other songs first, proving his assertion that the band’s sound has developed a long way from their nervous 80s thrash. They reveal one brand new song, ‘Two Bridges’, before throwing us into the ‘George Best’ set.
There’s no deviation from the running order but that’s exactly what this sold out, slightly blokey crowd have paid for, as they steam to the front and set up a very punchy moshpit. The band top things off with an airing of ‘Dalliance’, a ‘91 single whose devastating guitar shower overpowers anything on ‘George Best’. No encore follows, as always, but Gedge does decamp with band and fans to DJ for Another Sunny Day at The West Hill after.
Sunday brings us ‘The Hit Parade’, the 1992 singles series which gave The Wedding Present a dozen top 30 hits that year. The format’s the same – a short opening set of old and new tracks before the true nostalgia kicks in.
Back in ‘92, as each ‘Hit Parade’ 7” was released on the first Monday of the month, we trawled the record shops of whatever town we happened to be in for a copy, memories that are now a roll-call of vanished names: Past & Present, Watford; Marlyn Music, Eastbourne; the long-forgotten Worthing branch of Rounder; Our Price, anywhere. Finishing the year at a celebratory Wedding Present gig at Brixton Academy, we invested a lot of emotion in that little black box of singles.
In retrospect, not all the singles stand up strongly now, but critical distance be damned, we’re having a whale of a time. Standout songs like ‘Come Play With Me’ and ‘Flying Saucer’ send us right back to that Brixton sweatfest, and even the runt of the litter, the wilfully ragged ‘No Christmas’, is played with conviction tonight.
With The Wedding Present still releasing new albums to this day, David Gedge might as well take out a long lease on the Concorde’s bank holiday bookings. At The Edge Of The Sea shows no signs of drying up.
Concorde2, 24th-25th August 2013
Words by Stuart Huggett