Dont give me that, cos you were seen A personal history of the Wedding Present.
In 1987 I was sharing a flat with Digger and Scott in Finchley, North London. One day they come home from a night at ‘The Joiners’ with a tour poster they’d managed to peel off a wall. Digs a huge Man Utd fan (Scotty was a Rangers fan – even had Rangers boxer shorts…) and the poster was of George Best. It was advertising the Wedding Presents debut LP ‘George Best’ and lived in our kitchen for many years…..
The LP was just wonderful. Angst ridden, guitar sodden, bass heavy, hilarious conversational lyrics……what more could a young man want! Lead singer and weddoes mainman David Gedge became an indie hero. The following 12″ singles were also chock-full of ace tunes that you couldn’t get elsewhere (‘Don’t Laugh‘ being my personal fave). This band were doing everything right.
I was going out with Lee at the time and it was a turbulent 20-something on-off affair. We always seemed to break up as the Weddoes brought out a new LP or single (that I could then sit and mope to in my bedroom). She sent me a conciliatory postcard after one break up, on which I scrawled Why are you being so reasonable now! and posted it back to her. After several more getting back togethers we finally split with the release of Dalliance. I’d bought her the 10″ single as it had a version of the Velvets ‘She’s my best friend’ on it took it down to Guilford (where she was at Uni) and she finished with me…………After a 10 year Hiatus we got back together and are now happily married with kids and a mortgage and all that……I’m still a bit nervous of buying new Wedding Present CDs though!
I first got to see them at the Town and Country Club in Kentish Town (11.10.88). They produced a real energy that sent the crowd into a frenzy a fantastic night. A fantastic time to be a skinny indie kid in London: a couple of weeks before I’d seen the Fall’s ‘Kurious Oranj’ show and a couple of weeks after saw James at the Astoria with Happy Mondays in support.
Mitsu was at Leeds Uni at the time and we found out that her housemate Paddy (who’s a girl……its a long story) was going out with the Weddoes Drummer Simon. Wild parties at their LS6 ‘Brudenell’ house would often find bands playing in the basement with various members of the Wedding Present taking a turn – fab stuff (unless you were a non-student neighbour of course)……They were sure it was on an ancient lay-line because it was such a happy house……
Paddy and 3rd housemate Debby formed a band called ‘Sharon’ about this time. They miraculously got the Weddoes support slot at Leeds Poly (28.4.89) during the wild ‘Ukrainian’ tour. A gang of us travelled up from London to witness their triumphant stage show and I sneaked my camera in.
I’ve probably still got my Sharon T-shirt somewhere……..
Debby and Paddy later went on to make T-shirts that parodied the phenomenally successful James T-shirts (ja on the front, m on the sleeve and es on the back still got my original red one). Theirs had Sh on the front, i on the sleeve and te on the back……priceless.
The Ukrainian 10″ LP comprised of 2 John Peel sessions that had surprised us all when first aired. Traditional Ukraine folk songs, given a weddoes twist – never fails to raise a smile when its on. The crowd would go mental to ‘Those were the days my friend’. Pete Solowka later went on to form ‘the Ukrainians’ a successful band in their own right. The LP was the first release for their new big label deal at RCA. The sleeves had been printed up prior to the deal so RCA stickers had to be placed on with bar codes.
Knowing people in the know is great when it gets you on the guest list. I had a ticket for the 2nd night of the Bizarro tour at Kilburn National Ballroom and Mitsu got us in on the guest list for the 1st (1+2.11.89). What a great set of songs, the sound of a band brimming with confidence – I couldn’t get enough.
Bizarro was the 2nd proper LP if you don’t count the stop-gap ‘Tommy’ (a collection of early stuff, sessions etc in the Hatful of Hollows vein) or Ukrainski Vistupi V Johna Peela. Its probably my most played by them, mainly as it was one of the first albums I bought on CD. The same mix of funny and heartbreak to a pulsing bass and breakneck speed guitar.
The single version of Brassneck saw their first collaboration with Steve Albini as Engineer and was more rough and ready than the LP. Box Elder the Pavement cover on the B-side is my favourite of all the Weddoes covers (and heaven knows theyve done a few!). Unfortunately Ive never found a Pavement LP that lives up to it…… suggestions always welcome….
Got in on another ‘Gezzie’ at a gig they played in Liverpool (22.2.90) which was one I’ll never forget but not for a good reason…..I’d had a bit to drink and was moshing at the front and got stuck infront of one of the speakers. Whilst the band played ‘Don’t talk just kiss‘ there was a surge in the sound. Mitsu knew one of the sound guys who told her that there had been a problem with the sound, it wasn’t as loud as it should’ve been so everything was turned up to the max…….then someone noticed a loose connection on the floor of the sound booth and stood on it to reconnect it without thinking and BOOM!
Often my hearing could be funny for a couple of days post gig but this was different. I ended up with an appointment at the ‘Ear Nose and Throat Hospital’ in London to be told I’d lost half the hearing in my right ear and would always have tinnitus in it…..I’d never be in silence again. I guess I should have sued somebody but who? The venue? The Band? Promoter? The sound guy??? I just put it down to one of those things. The main dissadvantage comes when there’s alot of background noise (like being on the tube or in a busy bar) and I only notice the tinnitus when I’m very tired and in a quiet room – In fact it has its pluses…..I can sleep through anything if I lay on my left side – “No, I didn’t hear the children crying in the night….you should have woke me!” The damaged hearing didn’t stop me gigging (I went to see the Cramps later that week) but it did stop me standing infront of speakers.
The Weddoes next played at an Anti Poll Tax gig at the fridge in Brixton (25.4.90). They contributed ‘Make me smile (come up and see me)‘ to the anti poll tax compilation LP Alvin Lives (in Leeds) which again was re recorded with Mr Albini to be a hit single for them. Perhaps the strangest thing that night was this odd looking skinny guy, solo on stage singing an odd song. ‘Who’s that?’ I thought. “Hello, I’m Julian Cope and Im not paying the Poll Tax’….’well buggar me!’ Cud played that night too, but I only had time for Gedge and the gang.
Dig Scotty and I did not pay our Poll Tax as a protest against Thatcher who was our local MP in Finchley…….until the court summons came that is…….
I’m ashamed to say the Poll Tax gig was the last time I saw them live. I took a year out travelling in 92/93 so was away for most of the Hit Parade stuff (a limited 7 single a month for a year all of which charted for a week then disappeared – what a stroke of genius). My fave cover was number 4 as it had the Fantastic Four logo on it. I taped them live at The Reading Festival in 94 off Peelie (the ‘Watusi‘ period) but they never seemed to play Glastonbury when I was there.
When I moved to Leeds in 1995 I’d go and see bands associated with them such as the wonderful Beachbuggy (any band with 2 drummers gets me going), Scaramanga six and Cha Cha Cohen. I went to see Festive 50 aficionado Gedge interviewed by Peel during Radio 1’s Sound City visit to Leeds. He came across as such a nice bloke.
I still bought their LPs and later kept a passing interest in Gedges other band Cinerama but tiny children prevented me from seeing the reunion/reincarnation thats started touring again.
One of our first QUIMS meetings was to bring your favourite seven inch singles. John brought along the weddoes ‘Go Out and Getem Boy’ and casually announced that he has a dedication on the sleeve notes….turns out his first date with his now wife Debbie was to a weddoes gig in their very early days.
We played George Best at Sledges house on hearing that the Belfast Boy had passed away and I started listening to it again on repeat in the kitchen. So when I found out they were playing in Sheffield on my 43rd birthday (26/11/07) to celebrate 20 years since its release (all the same venues they did to promote it back in 87 and play the whole LP) I just had to go. John drove me and Lee down for a collective nostalgia fest. A great selection of old and new precluded someone in a bunny suit doing a countdown to George Best – Great stuff.
Bob the Chiropodist