On Saturday night I saw a band I have waited to see for about 23 years. The Wedding Present. To put it in perspective, the majority of their releases that I own…are on vinyl. I went at the urging of M. We took the caravan to Mung’s house in Northcote. Stuck it under his carport. Spent the day getting some inner-city vibe. More of that in another post.
Mung and I left M with his beer, a book and the sleeping Smalls at about 10.45pm. We headed to the Northcote Social Club. My insides felt fizzy. It was more than a bit strange. I suppose it must be a bit like coming back to your old stamping ground after living overseas for a few years.
most all of my twenties in pubs around Melbourne seeing bands, playing in a band, writing gig reviews and hanging about in pubs. Since disappearing to Queensland in 2003, I have done very little of that. Since having Small Z in 2008, I haven’t done it at all. Zip. Zero. Zilch. My priorities have radically changed.
I walked into the Northcote Social Club on Saturday night, sadly having missed Last Leaves, and felt not only like I was time travelling, but that I was stuck between two worlds. Everything was the same, but everything was different. I saw faces that I hadn’t seen for ten years. There was no cigarette smoke, which part of me still expected. There was a buzz in the room. People were nattering. I had a quiet shandy and looked at everything.
The Wedding Present tragics stood out in that way that slightly unhinged people do. They hadn’t come to chat. They’d Come To See The Band. And were fidgeting nervously like they expected it still might not actually happen. I may have been one of them.
And of course there were the two or three dickhead fans – the ones that yelled conversationally at the band during breaks between songs as the rest of the room cringed. The one who shoved her way to the front so hard that someone was knocked over. The ones that, for the most part, David Gedge studiously ignored.
How I wish I had a setlist*. They played their 1991 album Seamonsters in its entirety. From the first track to the last. DG explained that, whether it sounded pretentious or not, he wasn’t going to speak between the songs because it disturbed the flow. It was the right decision.
Before embarking on Seamonsters they cranked out, among others, My Favourite Dress and Brassneck. I was in h-e-a-v-e-n. It’s been exactly five years since I’ve been to a gig where I’ve jumped up and down with a grin that went to the back of my head. (That, if you were wondering, was the Pixies – at the Palace – 28 March 2007. Blew my mind.)
The sound was great. I don’t know who was mixing them, but it was almost perfect. The bass was up. The distortion was chunky. The lead guitar jangled and seethed. DG’s strumming was frequently a visual blur and he switched between an Epiphone and some Fendery looking guitar. (Actually, some digging around shows me it was an Ibanez Artist.)
I had no preconceptions as to what DG would be like live. He was FAR more expressive than I had ever imagined. Yes, he was spitting out (in some cases 27 year) old lyrics, but it still looked and sounded like he meant them. Guitar-wise, Heather was one of my highlights. I am not kidding, I was mid-swoon with the feedbacky drone at the beginning…
Jumping up and down riotously when one is fully of shandy and has had two children is a slightly damper experience than one might have had five years previously – but that was fine because one refrained from throwing one’s knickers at the band. Just.
They played for about ninety sweat soaked minutes. The band was tight and uniformly good looking. Which always helps. Mung said that he thought there was remarkably little interaction between any of them, but I dispute that. They were there to interact musically, not to swap witticisms. They played a few tracks from the new EP Valentina which were great. I’m not familiar with their more recent albums (one in 2005 and another in 2008) but I don’t think there were many, if any, tracks from those.
The Wedding Present don’t do encores. This was fine – for me the whole show was an encore. I was buzzing to have actually seen them. On the way out we saw my former housemate from 1991, who marvelled that we’d finally got to see the band on the records we used to play back in Autumn Street in Geelong West.
Hooray to Lost and Lonesome for getting them out here – it was about time! My heart is happy 🙂
* Setlist is here…
Thanks so much @mediamook!