It was 1987 when David Gedge and The Wedding Present – then a no-nonsense jangly musical vehicle for his tales of heartbreak – first stopped off in Northampton for a gig in the cramped Old Five Bells’ function room.
Championed by the NME, buoyed by a growing following of loyal fans, and ready to unleash the seminal, in independent music terms at least, George Best LP, the four-piece from Leeds had the indie world at their feet.
Major label and chart success followed in the late' 80s and early '90s, before Gedge began to chop and change the band’s line-up with a regularity that saw fans affectionately label him the Yorkshire Mark E Smith. In common with The Fall’s restless leader, Gedge has devoted his life to his band, forever pushing his musical boundaries, always moving forward, always striving to make an album that’s better than the last.
So, with such a steely focus on the future, why tour the George Best album, 30 years after its release – and so soon after the birth of critically acclaimed 2016 long player, Going, Going…?
“The first time we were asked to do one of those '80s-'90s band festivals, I was quite reticent,” admits Gedge. “We aren’t one of those bands reformed and revived for the nostalgia circuit, because we never went away. So, we were a bit dubious, but we did it and it was actually really good.
“There’s a lot of people who go to those festivals who are lapsed fans, I suppose, who maybe got George Best and then [major label follow-up] Bizarro, then lost interest, got married, moved on, left university or whatever.
“So, this sort of thing is an opportunity to get to those people and say ‘look, here we are, we’re still here’. People come to the merchandising stall and say ‘I last saw you in 1990 – woah, how many albums have you got now? I’ll take them all’. In some ways it’s nice to be in a position to say ‘here’s some music to explore that you may not have heard’, so hopefully they’ll enjoy it – or perhaps they won’t.”
Revisiting his band’s early heritage has also seen Gedge fall back in love with his earlier material, although rattling through George Best can be a little “surreal”.
“That LP is very personal to me, it’s almost like reading a diary of how I felt back then,” he said. “When I’m playing those songs, I’m taken straight back there to that time. It’s an interesting feeling.
“I’m the same person as when I wrote those songs, but people change: they grow up, their attitudes change, as do their personalities. So, when I am playing these songs, it’s almost like I am two different people – It’s like looking at a picture of myself 30 years ago.”
The Wedding Present play The Roadmender on Friday 8 December. Tickets cost £18 before fees.