Chris Fidler reviews The Wedding Present at the Roadmender
Sitting at the wheel, waiting for the lights to change, motorists stopping for a moment outside The Roadmender must’ve been wondering what all the fuss was about.
Legions of men in their 40s and 50s, most not bothering with a coat on the coldest night of the year, politely queuing around the corner, arms straight down, hands thrust in pockets, like a straggle of giddy King Emperor penguins.
David Gedge can have this effect on a man of a certain age. Like a modern-day pied piper, he rocks up in the UK’s town and city centres, doing the seemingly impossible – prising those who should know better off their sofas, away from the telly and into a place where the younger things normally roam.
And for what? To hear a plain-speaking Yorkshireman careering towards his sixth decade.
Revisiting songs from his second. About his girlfriend. Who left him.
Tragic? Not a bit of it. Along with The Smiths, The Wedding Present were the main soundtrackers to the lives of the 1980s’ cooler kids. Those teens are now, well, not teens, but Gedge’s songs live on.
Replaying The Wedding Present’s brittle nought-to-heartbreak-in-60-seconds George Best album to mark 30 years since its release, the tunes sound fresher, if less relevant to his current love life, than they ever did.
Latest guitarist Marcus Kain, not even a glint in the eye when George Best was released, added an extra sonic dimension to Gedge’s breakneck classics – while throwing in some heady rock glamour with rock poses that would have been so out of place and fashion 30 years ago, but which the riffs clearly deserve.
And The Roadmender crowd – which, to be fair, also included a large smattering of seemingly smitten women – couldn’t catch their breath.
After a low-key start, a sizeable throng of moshers sprang into life to Best-opener, Everyone Think He Looks Daft. And the mosh kept going for the last hour.
No mean feat considering the album is so one-paced – Gedge even quipped: “It’s time for a slow one now. Not really, there’s no slow ones.”
A revamped A Million Miles – no question a contender for best indie lament of the past 30 years – a brutal All This And More and stone-cold classic My Favourite Dress had such an effect on the crowd the bouncers – all nonchalant smiles at the start – began popping up like thick-necked nervy meerkats, surveying the mess, ready to pounce.
Best over with, there was no respite, with the inevitable turbo-charged set closers of Bizzaro-era Kennedy and Bewitched. All broken strings and battered guitar, Gedge could hardly form the words “thank you and goodnight” as the house lights came on.
Try getting anyone up from the sofa the next day. I dare you.
* The show took place on Friday December 8. Visit scopitones.co.uk for details of future tour dates.