Thursday, October 25, 2007

Gig review: Wedding Present/St. Jude's Infirmary

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


So It Goes said...

I saw them in Plymouth twice: the first time left me partially deaf for three days, so the next time I didn't stand right under David's feet, as I had done the first time, and with tissue paper in my ears. They didn't play 'Nobody's Twisting Your Arm' that time, but I think they would have been executed if they didn't play 'Kennedy', so they did. Second most memorable live band ever (first has to be Queen in 79).

Ed said...

Queen and Wedding Present mentioned in the same sentence, you've as diverse taste as me! (anyone slagging off Queen, leave your name or I will simply call you a coward). Saw Weddoes in 2005 when they first reformed and they were great then too.

Drunk Country said...

Hello you, you Mr. 17 Secs, you.

Here's a little anecdote for you re: TWP & Mr. Gedge. I swear it is all true.

About 4 years ago I had a 'thing' with the woman who Gedge wrote all the early stuff about (the majority of which making up George Best). It was an interesting 6 or so months. Interesting in the sense of 'got out by the skin of my teeth'.

Before me, she was seenig a bald, 40+ year old Russian scientist who made the papers in the 80s after 'escaping' the KGB & defecting to the UK. He went slightly mad after she dumped him & ended up losing his job as a Crystallographer at Cardiff University.

Our first "date" ended with us being busted by traffic police, in a layby near Cardiff, having frantic liaisons of an adult movie nature, in the back of her fiat something or other. It was her idea as she was too drunk to drive at the time &, I quote, "couldn't wait to have it" - one suspects there had been a fallow period.

The nicely turned out officer said, as I rolled down the window, covering my exclamation with a windscreen rag: "We thought the car had been stolen & dumped for burning, but this is far more interesting". She got points, I had a knuckle rap.

We didn't last long & I can see why Gedge was so fucked up as a result of having such a long term involvement with her, for her story is a bizarre one.

She was (still is, I believe) a Speech Therapist in her local hospital just on the edge of Cardiff (dealing, mainly, with genuine nutbags & loony tunes), which translates as: she did sound exercises & vocal gymnastics with groups of ever-so brain-wrong long stay parkers. Sort of like Prison Drama Therapy but for the mouth.

She was/is a writer/poet who specialised in 'sound' poems (more over-enunciating & chewing air) & a situationalist artist - which, by her definition, meant she collected junk & shit & flytipfuls of absolutely worthless rubbish & stored it all in her NHS bestowed staff house. It was, to say the least, a fucking bomb site. Every couple of months her bosses would inspect her premises to make sure she was keeping it to the standard they expected it. This was because she was living in a house that, ordinarily, would be designated a halfway house for out patients with supervision requirements (ie her patients). Somehow she'd wangled one in this specially built street, with it's specially low rent, & all she had to do to keep it was turn up to work & make sure the place didn't look like The Iron Giany had decorated the place with his arse matter. Unfortunately, most of the time it did. The day before each inspection she'd take a sick day & furiously clean, move & hide the junk (mainly in the garden, not very successfully, under tarps). On one or two occasions she actuallty threw stuff out, but with much heart wrenching.

Anyway, she eventually got the letter to say she'd been rumbled & had to leave the property. So, what does she do? She celebrates by taking a lump hammer to an upright piano (one she'd found on the side of a road - don't ask) & record the resulting sound for posterity.

We eventually split after I basically ran away screaming (her 10year old son was a Grade A precocious c**t, who took to telling strangers in the street that I was "fucking his mother"). Soon after she met a bus driver at a party, shared a tent for the evening, fell in love over conversations of crystals & healings, got engaged two weeks later (his engagement ring to her? a clitoris piercing...) & then married a month later at the foot of Kilimanjaro.

A year after that she turned up on Wife Swap!!! One of the ones where the husband swaps instead of the little woman. It's the episode where the (other wife's) husband is taken to a forest & aurally massaged by some spirit nonce & then made to shout poetry off a Welsh hillside. He also tidied her house up (it was a fucking dustbin of a place) & she went uber mental as a result. Her bus driving husband proceded to destroy what trust the other wife's kids had in kindness & compassion by acting like a tyranical child catcher-sum Victorian headmaster. It was stupefying stuff to watch, especially as I knew them & knew what lunatics they were in real life. She used the resultant bad publicity (local rags had a field day) to help publicise her to-be-published poetry book. She once read at a poetry festival with a hooded top she had customised with the pink embroidered word C**T emblazoned across her tits. It was all rather bizarre.

She also saw dead people. She had a 'connection' with spirit, sprites, demons & shadows. She'd often ring me up with freaked out, rambling calls about her being in Ikea & suddenly coming over all wobbly & wondering what it was 'they' were trying to tell her. So, she'd yell "what do you want from me?" at the top of her lungs. On one occasion she was explaining to me she had been folllowing very much the above pattern when, as she yelled one final time into the ever so high rafters, she turned a corner in the aisle & froze. What had she seen? "Well, you know Ikea have these names they like to give their products? Well, I was in the kitchen section & hanging from the ceiling, directly in front of me, was a white board [non-permanent felt pen wipe-off notice board] & in the top corner in red letters was your name! I knew they were trying to diect me somewhere & it was YOU! Tell me, what's happened? You're not hurt are you?"

Nope, I certanly wasn't. But I was quite scared of her after a while & eventually managed to avoid her altogether. It's only when TWP come up that I remember her skittishness & downright lunacy.

No wonder Gedge wanked his 6-string as manically as he did.

A big, fat *phew!* all round.

Ta for now. MP3s'll be in the email tomorrow.


Ed said...

Blimey! You cannot make this stuff up.

BTW please let me know your email, am trying to respond... : )

Matthew said...

I think Queen are shite. There you go - I said it. Advertising music is all it is.

*Runs for cover!*

Ed said...

...i didn't say to you what I was going ot do if you did leave your name *laughs evilly*