Too Much Apple Pie

On Saturday, my friend John and I braved the freezing weather conditions to go see The Wedding Present play Cyprus Avenue in Cork. The roads were dry on the way down and we arrived in plenty of time to buy a few books at Vibes & Scribes. Later, I bought a woolly hat to keep the cold out, though I was outdone by John who bought two. After some nice hot food and a cold beverage at the Bully restaurant we made it to Cyprus Avenue in plenty of time. It’s a small venue that’s divided into a main room and an adjacent one at the back that carries a live feed from the stage that can be viewed on a number of screens. We were surprised to see David Gedge standing at the merchandising stall with who I presumed was his partner and manager. While John bought a live CD of the band, I chatted with Dave about the gig. He told me they’d start with a few songs and then play their Bizarro album in full. John asked if they’d be playing the Camden Deluxe version of the album as it features their frenetic take on It’s Not Unusual. Dave said he wouldn’t be playing the deluxe version and politely turned down John’s request to play the Tom Jones number. We managed to drag ourselves away from Dave to watch the support act on the screen as they played in the next room, though we were also able to hear the band’s rudimentary musical skills and similar sounding songs. The band had the rather unusual moniker of So Cow and their musical style was a poor attempt at mimicking such bands as Green Day, Weezer and the like, but without the musicianship or the songs. Their punky version of Del Shannon’s Runaway was the highlight for me and I wouldn’t have minded if they had played more covers at the expense of their own material

The Wedding Present formed in Leeds in the mid-80s and Gedge has been their principal singer, songwriter and guitarist throughout the years. They released a few singles and had been championed by John Peel before releasing their debut album in 1987. George Best is the title of that masterpiece and it remains one of my favourite albums from the time. My first encounter with the band, however, was with the songs Brassneck and Kennedy and both appear on Bizarro from 1989, the follow-up to George Best. Their current tour celebrates the 21st anniversary of its release and features the band playing all ten tracks from the album in sequence. This trend of playing an entire album live is not a new one, as I recall that R.E.M. did it about 30 years ago when they played Murmur for the first half of a gig and their latest release for the second. I have a live Lou Reed concert from 1989 where he performs his New York album all the way through and he did the same recently with Berlin. The only time I’ve seen an artist do this was when I saw Evan Dando (minus The Lemonheads) play It’s a Shame About Ray in Limerick a few years ago. Personally, I prefer not knowing what’s coming up at a gig as I like to be surprised by the choice of songs, delighted by hearing my favourites and disappointed when other favourites don’t appear. I would have preferred if the band had played George Best in its entirety, but that boat sailed on their previous tour. Even so, I was really looking forward to seeing the band for the first time and particularly to hearing how Brassneck and Kennedy would go down

The band took the stage some time after 10.00pm and played about five songs from their back catalogue before delivering the main course. The band gave off an incredible energy throughout, with Gedge contributing just as much as his younger colleagues. Apart from one song, Gedge was joined by Pepe le Moko on bass, Charlie Layton on drums and Graeme Ramsay on guitar. Le Moko was visually striking in her colourful dress and rhythmic movements, but also played a nice combination of either melodic or driving basslines as required by the particular song. Gedge and Ramsay added to the wall of sound with their simple, direct style that mostly consisted of a torrent of three-chord wonders delivered at breakneck speed. The most impressive figure on stage, though, was Layton who beat the shit out of the drum skins and seemed to be enjoying himself even more than the dozen fellas who engaged in the rather exerting practice of moshing for the duration of the show. Fearing an injury, I remained on the periphery, though I did allow myself to tap my foot and sway from side-to-side when appropriate

Gedge’s banter with the audience was suitably wry and at one stage he even asked us to follow his twitter account. Three songs into Bizarro, a member of the audience requested My Favourite Dress from George Best. Gedge pointed out to the latecomer that he must have wandered into the wrong album. In the end, the band’s attempt to re-capture the sound of Bizarro in a live setting was a huge success as Gedge’s vocals and the performance of the whole band made it feel like it was 1989 again. Apart from Gedge’s mention of Twitter, the only other evidence that we were in 2010 was the prominence of iPhones used to capture photographic (see above) and video evidence of the gig. The performances of Brassneck and Kennedy were highlights for me, but I also enjoyed the extended workout on Take Me, one of the band’s longest songs. The band followed this with the final track on Bizarro, Be Honest, and this also proved to be the final song of the night. John and I left the venue suitably warmed up and I put on my newly-purchased headgear even though I didn’t really need it. We listened to more songs by The Wedding Present and their ilk on the way back to Limerick, where the roads were not as treacherous as had been promised. I would urge you to check out the band’s original material, particularly their first two albums, but I’ll finish up with a couple of the group’s many fine covers. Their version of the classic by Tom Jones originally appeared as a b-side to one of the dozen monthly singles they released in 1992 and that one goes out to John. Their wonderful take on the Steve Harley hit originated on a compilation entitled Alvin Lives (In Leeds) and is dedicated to me. Until the next time

It’s Not Unusual (Tom Jones cover) – The Wedding Present

Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me) (Steve Harley cover) – The Wedding Present

Upcoming gigs from The Wedding Present

2 thoughts on “Too Much Apple Pie

    • Indeed, Webbie. I would have loved to have joined in with the moshing when I was younger, but now I’m more into joshing

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