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The Wedding Present

Shepherd's Bush Welcomes the Wedding Present

(Secret Records Limited; US: 4 Dec 2007; UK: 14 Jan 2008)

What was once old is new again, or so it has appeared in recent years. Groups made popular in the ‘80s couldn’t get arrested in the ‘90s, but now many of those bands have returned to the spotlight. And while they might not be as popular as they would like to be, British group the Wedding Present are back. Well, they never really left except for a period in which lead singer David Lewis Gedge went off on his own project, Cinerama, in the late ‘90s. Nonetheless, this collection of songs is a great representation of the band at its best and an equally stellar introduction to those who never experienced them the first go around.


Culled from a far-reaching discography and a genre-bending, adventurous creative streak throughout, the Wedding Present’s live album, taken from a November 2005 performance at London’s famed Shepherd’s Bush Empire, opens with a smart, Kinks-ian “Corduroy” from 1991’s Seamonsters that has plenty of buzzsaw guitar and lots of moxie. And this is the high quality one will have to thankfully endure throughout, whether on a number like “Click Click” that begins the joyous homestretch of this 21-song salute. The songs jump off the album and grab the listener by the throat, especially the ensuing short but terribly sweet “Sucker”, fleshed out by drummer Simon Pearson’s concluding fills.


Although a live album, the crowd interaction is at a minimum here, with no banter early on and just one great effort after another with the slightly tamer “Blue Eyes” that explodes during the bridge. But the set takes a look back at their early influences as “Always the Quiet One” harks back to the days of a certain pairing of Morrissey and Johnny Marr crafting melodic but maudlin material. The same could be said of the jangle-filled “Apres Ski” that brings to mind Echo & the Bunnymen.


For the most part, though, Gedge and crew (an ever-changing one since the early days), dish out grin-inducing nuggets like “Don’t Talk, Just Kiss” that have lost none of their luster despite Gedge shifting gears here from mid-tempo to a high-octane, punk-meets-rockabilly romp. It’s as if age has not played a part in the songs sounding outdated or passé. Hell, most of them come off as relevant now, or even more so than when they were first released, judging by how well “A Million Miles” is executed. And after mentioning how “Suck” could be about sex or life, the Wedding Present present the song beautifully, with Gedge’s lilt a little bit more evident here.


Although slowing down for the temporary slow-dance jewel “Come Play With Me”, the closest the Wedding Present might come to a waltz, the band tear through “Crushed” with equal aplomb and verve that by now has become the norm of the album and fortunately not the exception. Gedge nails “Ringway to Seatac”, with its dramatic structure that ends just a hair too abruptly. It’s a small price to pay, though, with the terrific trifecta beginning with “Nobody’s Twisting Your Arm”. The Wedding Present have a new album in the works with Steve Albini at the helm and set for a late May release. Here’s hoping it’s as stellar as this offering.

Rating:

Originally from Cape Breton, MacNeil is currently writing for the Toronto Sun as well as other publications, including All Music Guide, Billboard.com, NME.com, Country Standard Time, Skope Magazine, Chart Magazine, Glide, Ft. Myers Magazine and Celtic Heritage. A graduate of the University of King's College, MacNeil currently resides in Toronto. He has interviewed hundreds of acts ranging from Metallica and AC/DC to Daniel Lanois and Smokey Robinson. MacNeil (modestly referred to as King J to friends), a diehard Philadelphia Flyers fan, has seen the Rolling Stones in a club setting, thereby knowing he will rest in peace at some point down the road. Oh, and he writes for PopMatters.com.


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20 Mar 2012
Is Valentina as good as the Wedding Present's high-water mark, Seamonsters? No, but it adds a few more singles-quality tracks to the Weddoes' hit parade.
29 Apr 2010
I was nearly as eager to find out what hearing a beloved album, Bizarro, in its entirety would be like, as I was just to see the band again.
16 Apr 2010
Although Girl in a Coma's look lacks congruence with its name, musically it's far from inappropriate. Thus they were the perfect compliment to headliners The Wedding Present, Saturday at the Bowery Ballroom.
12 Apr 2010
Twenty five years on, The Wedding Present are still one of the best live indie-pop acts around.
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