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The Wedding PResent

The venue is deceptive as I arrive at the Promenade Lounge, looking empty only because everyone is currently up at the balcony bar. As warm up act, Japanese band Taffy, take to the stage with 'Stay With Me', a pleasingly-sized congregation assembles before the stage. With jangly guitars, female lead singer/guitarist Iris moshing, super-smiley drummer Ken, scowly bass player Koichin and amiable guitarist Akano, this foursome have an edge of cool. Powering straight in to the first three tracks, the feel is reminiscent of scenes from 'The Bronze' in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, all laid-back hipster semi-grunge swagger. They're coordinated but not over-styled, with a colour scheme of black, white and red that carries through even to the instruments. 

The bass-playing is dextrous and warbling; people are bopping already to the powerful chords.

Starting with a drum beat before bass & guitar kick in they play their cover of The Cure's 'Boys Don't Cry'. It is quite lovely, sung by this quirky female vocalist, with the bassist and drummer providing backing vocals.
Their next track has the wailing and 'reverse' sounding riffs of Elastica, while others show off nice changes of pace and crashing instrumentals. There is a lot of moshing going on to these reverb-laden rock-pop tracks, and as they finish up with a track which has the chorus 'hey, kids, come enjoy the joyride' Iris shows off some fast, dancy, slidy guitar. Their set was very much enjoyed by people around, overhearing the phrase 'cracking little set' from some neighbours.

Taffy

Taffy

Taffy

Taffy

This crowd, up for a good time, have swelled considerably by the time the Wedding Present make their much applauded entrance to the stage. The theme of the evening is that they will play 1987 album, George Best, in its entirety. They open however with Interstate 5, a track from 2004, followed by an instrumental, before addressing the fans. Appealing to them with the declaration that is good to be back in Yorkshire, it leads to 'At the Edge of the Sea' from mid-eighties album, Tommy. 1994's 'Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah' is powerful, engendering a singalong; an anthem of self-doubt and confusion, the drums punctuate the emotional refrain. At the end, David Gedge laughingly admits he made a mistake with the lyrics but carried on, it's live music, unique and one night only, after all... his charm adds to the laddy, pub atmosphere, as he explains to loud cheers the concept for the evening and they kick off some George Best tracks, interspersing others in-between.

Gedge has an appealing tendency to 'act' out lyrics, without it being cheesy, and both guitarists thrash around, a contrast to the serene bassist Katharine Wallinger.
Some of the tracks have a very grunge, bassy sound, while others have an upbeat clarity. The soulful, painfully emotive, almost storylike quality of 'Drive' is, unfortunately, spoilt by a frog-like sound coming from the speakers. Gedge laughs quizzically and awaits its repair with good-humoured pessimism. Once sorted, they get back on track immediately and there is a discernible ripple of dancing as the mosh pit builds; Gedge declares this album is like a workout to play; and jokes, not without some cause, that it is a little 'samey', although he's not complaining as it has seen him right over the years. On 'A Million Miles' the emotive face and vocal intonation is superb, while their rendition of 'My Favourite Dress' is anthemic and attempts at stage-diving commence, causing the watchful eyes of security to be on high alert. Gedge encourages the audience to sing along, declaring, "You know the lyrics better than me, we've established that!" 'Give My Love to Kevin' is also met with a huge cheer.

I've been used to gigs in the bigger Spa Grand Hall but would welcome seeing more bands using the Promenade Lounge too, for its more intimate feel. Most of the crowd, whether moshing at the front and getting rambunctious, or louche and lounging against the balcony of the bar, appear to be late thirties / early forties and are having a grand old time, though there is a teenage lad stood near me who is also definitely enjoying this original indie band greatly. Having only really been familiar with one track before ('Why Are You Being so Reasonable Now', from an 'Indie Top 20' compilation album one of my big brothers gave me, more years ago now than I care to admit) I do sort of wonder why I have missed knowing more about them; aside from Gedge's great stage rapport, the songwriting is superb and the themes of love and self-doubt clearly resonate with many attending this sold-out show.

The Wedding Present will be touring later in the year with tracks from 1992 double-album Hit Parade 1&2.

The Wedding Present

The Wedding Present

The Wedding Present

The Wedding Present

The Wedding Present

The Wedding Present

The Wedding Present

The Wedding Present

 

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