Monday, March 26, 2012

Review: The Wedding Present @ Brighton Music Hall

The Wedding Present @Brighton Music Hall, Boston, MA - March 23, 2012
Review: Dave Bolton

What once was an interesting trend has become a full-blown epidemic. I can’t even remember who started it, but it seems that what some bands like to do now is treat the fans who actually like to listen to LPs by track order rather than using shuffle or just the radio-friendly unit shifters to live renditions of selected albums. Not just tracks, entire albums.

In the last three years I have seen The Cult play the whole of Love from start to finish, Peter Hook ignoring the wishes of New Order to play Unknown Pleasures, Slayer encoring with the 27 minutes of Reign in Blood and Marillion (UK prog-rock legends, hitting the USA in June) using their bi-annual conventions in Europe to play entire LP’s in the order of release.

On Friday, it was the turn of another legendary band to gallop in a chronological manner.
The Wedding Present may only have one founding member in the form of David Gedge but the darlings of the mid 80-late 90’s UK indie-rock scene (and a personal favorite of the late John Peel) are using their 2012 tour to play 1991’s Seamonsters in all it’s layers of quiet-loud-not quiet-loud again glory.

So far, so good. The third album from the Leeds band was criticized by Melody Maker (now defunct UK magazine) as “like sandpapering your ears” but it was easy enough in an aural sense to do well in readers’ polls at the end of that year. For me, it was an LP that had slipped through the cracks, I don’t mind admitting that if I need a Gedge fix I usually turn to George Best or the numerous Peel radio sessions but there is nothing wrong with Seamonsters.

Being The Wedding Present, they decide that they will open their show at the Brighton Music Hall in Boston with material from their new LP, Valentina (all of which seamlessly fits into the impressive back catalogue). Arriving on stage at 10:30, Gedge then sprinkles the next 30 minutes with tracks from the aforementioned Best and 1994’s Watusi before finally announcing the arrival of ‘monsters with the sonic charge of "Dalliance."

With Gedge backed by his trio of fresh-faced musicians – including the beautiful Pepe Le Moko, sleeveless and tattooed - the band keep the fans entertained in the small but perfectly formed venue with "Dare," "Suck," "Blonde," "Rotterdam," "Lovenest" and (I can only assume) the rest of the album.
I have to assume this happened because due to public transport in Boston only operating until just after midnight EVERY night of the week, I was forced to leave my precious spot at the front of the stage at just after 11:30 p.m.

Which sucked, mainly because the band were on top form, Charlie Layton on drums keeping up a driving beat that got the older heads in the crowd nodding in admiration while Graeme Ramsey kept quietly to his side of the stage but only in the physical sense.

Of course, bands should decide when they want to take the stage, promoters and venues need to make sure that the punters are in early enough to enjoy the support bands and to take advantage of the alcoholic refreshments on sale. But when you need to leave before the end because you have to get home without spending $60 on a taxi…

But this is a minor (and personal) gripe. What I heard for that 60 minutes was classic Present, a band that never reached the level of unit-shifting acclaim that their cleverly crafted music and lyrics deserved.
In my self-allotted time at the Brighton Music Hall, I was lucky to catch both support bands. The energy and singer-on-helium of Japan’s Toquima (formerly the Pinky Piglets) was an eye-opening experience while The Jet Age were a good warm-up into the main event, the three piece from Washington making me think of Echo and the Bunnymen thrown into the food blender with U2 and a touch of The Gaslight Anthem.

It was just a shame that as the crowd were getting their money’s worth from The Wedding Present, I was already on my last bus home. There’s a song in there somewhere…


Thanks a lot, Dave! Check out the night's setlist below.

Set List 

Back A Bit…Stop
Anyone Can Make A Mistake
Meet Cute
It’s A Gas
Deer Caught In The Headlights
Quick Before It Melts
The Girl From The DDR
You Should Always Keep In Touch

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