The self-styled “semi-legendary” Wedding Present are back on the road, partaking in a ‘classic albums’ tour, of sorts. For this year marks the 21st anniversary of their Steve Albini-produced noise rock masterpiece Seamonsters, which would be played in full.
But first, a word (or several) about the support band. It’s fairly rare that I’ll talk about the support, unless they are very, VERY good. But Toquiwa, an all-girl group hailing from Tokyo, brought chaotic fun to the proceedings. Almost Riot Grrrl (if in sound, maybe not principle), they blasted through their set, complete with an amazingly energetic singalong of The Wedding Present’s own ‘Kennedy’. Great fun.
Under waves of feedback, the main act took to the stage, clad fully in black- The Wedding Present meant business, launching immediately into ‘End Credits’, one of the highlights from their most recent album, Valentina. After a brief explanation by the gruff David Gedge about the night (a mixture between new material, Seamonsters, and “others from our very, very extensive repertoire”)- a mixture of tracks throughout the years featured, ranging from George Best (‘My Favourite Dress’), the Mini EP (‘Sports Car’), Valentina and even a couple of songs from side-project Cinerama, including a song sung entirely in German by Swiss bass player Pepe Le Moko.
However, the night was about one album, and from the first chords of ‘Dalliance’, the intensity cranked up somewhat. Interaction between audience was kept to a minimum- “I don’t want to sound pretentious, but it’s silly doing a very dark song about heartbreak, then telling a joke. It’s not right”. I’m inclined to believe that. ‘Dalliance’ moved straight into ‘Dare’- just like on the record- all feedback and snarled vocals. Even the minute-and-a-half of pure white noise that bridges ‘Lovenest’ and ‘Corduroy’ was performed. Dedication.
Seamonsters is probably my favourite Wedding Present album (it’s a close call between it and 2004’s Take Fountain. While the latter has better songs, Seamonsters is better as a complete album- if that makes sense), and the chance to see the entire album performed was far too good to miss. The loud-quiet-louder-even louder ‘Blonde’, the fuzzy, loping ‘Heather’ and the jangling ‘Octopussy’ being particularly excellent.
With time to spare after the final refrain of ‘Octopussy’ faded out, the band played two more songs- one from the ‘great lost album’ Watusi (an oddity which was deleted from shelves for many years before a iTunes-led resurgence earlier this year) and the finale- the 9-minute plus ‘Take Me!’ which I remember went down a storm when they played Preston on the Bizarro anniversary tour.
…which brings me onto the only criticism of the night. In comparison to places I’ve been in Manchester, Preston, Newcastle and Sunderland, the Bristol crowd seemed very…docile. I only noted 3 people (other than myself) who was moving at all, let alone dancing (indiepop shuffle, of course) or singing along. To coin the phrase, “the silence was deafening” between songs.
But overall, fantastic showing from Gedge and co., who are currently touring the UK, and are due to tour in the USA early next year.
I’m quite pleased with how that last picture’s come out.