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Gig review

The Wedding Present / The Jet Age

I saw The Wedding Present first when I was fourteen at Leeds festival with my Dad. I had gone to see the Pixies and didn’t much care about anything else except seeing the Pixies and the fact that I was finally at a festival (I ignored the fact I was with my dad and was under strict instruction to not drink any alcohol or stray too far into any mosh pits.
My dad dragged me to the front when the Wedding Present came on, he told me I had to watch and like it. Thanks dad, and I did.
So when I told him I was going to see the Wedding Present tonight, he texted back instantly saying “are you wearing ‘My Favourite Dress‘?” Alas, I had jeans on.

It feels slightly unnatural seeing load of older people crammed into your student union, especially over excited dad types in woolly hats. Even weirder as I still had the lingering memory of having coffee where that bald man was now standing, with someone not two days previous. However when first band Jet Age began playing it was clear that this weird students’ lunch hall was probably the best place to see this sort of music, not to mention the sound was fantastic. For some reason I love it when the floor shakes with the drum beats and you can feel the music jiggling your Tennents-filled bladder about.

The Jet Age are the newly evolved effort of previously acclaimed D.C band Hurricane Lamps and they have been touring with The Wedding Present since 2008, so in my opinion they are at least worth a listen, so I turned up in time to see them play. I’m still undecided on how they fared.
There is no way I am going to deny that they possess talent, the guitar riffs and solos that front man Eric Tischler and the drummer – who incidentally was the second David Baddiel doppelganger I’d seen that week (maybe MonkeyDust was right and he CAN do everything) – were incredibly skilled musicians. The drummer was most definitely the most talented of the three members, he played drums as if he had three arms. The best way to describe a band is through comparisons and I struggled with The Jet Age; at times their instrumental sounded much like Dinosaur Jr, high praise indeed, but with the whiney, ‘only a dog could hear’ vocals of, for example, the likes of Billy Corgan. Their last song ‘Cry Baby’ with its psychedelic noise intro added an interesting twist to the set with an accompaniment of an incredibly synthed up guitar and steel drums. It was weird to hear the mash up of 90s dance music reminiscent of The Happy Mondays finish off a set that primarily channeled the sounds of the more grungy 90s indie pop movement. The Jet Age, whilst a perfectly suitable opener for The Wedding Present, were not particularly memorable but they gain points for a very enthusiastic performance and making simple, uncomplicated indie pop.

I’ve not seen the QMU as crowded as it was for the beginning of the Wedding Present since fresher’s week. Although not supported by any of the original members of the band it doesn’t seem to matter or make the Wedding Present any less of what it was because all it really was, was David Gedge anyway. As soon as he struts onto the stage in the cocky northern way that only short men seem able to pull off the crowd stops any murmurings and he starts playing without any way of an introduction; the man has charisma.

The set consisted of the entire 1986 Bizzaro album and a newer song ‘You Jane’ which ‘Gedgey’ as he had by this time been christened in chants, announced as its “first ever live performance…in Glasgow”. The highlights of the set, as always with classic, established and in this case legendary bands were the songs that had proved to be hits for The Wedding Present, notably a high energy rendition of ‘Brassneck’ which even got me dancing and ‘Kennedy’. The Wedding Present are a band that really should have more recognition as a defining band in pop music history. They create perfect pop that hits you right in the face and Gedge writes and delivers lyrics in a conversational and unapologetic fashion which is so adopted into the indie music of nowadays that people forget its origins. However, it’s very easy to see from a live performance that many young northern bands have been influenced by them and other bands of that era that all fall into the same category, for example the Fall or the earlier Buzzcocks.

I can’t fault this performance from David Gedge and his much younger accompanying band who played along to songs that were being written and performed before they were born with an admirable enthusiasm and skill, and I realised I really appreciated the chance to be able to see them live again as a headlining act and without the smoke of plastic fires floating overhead. The final song, ‘Be Honest’, a quieter and more melodic track provided the perfect close to the night summarised best in its lyrics: “Cos if we’re really, really going to be honest we might as well be brief.” And guess what? There was no clichéd, over rehearsed and obviously expected encore which was refreshing. The only thing that would have made my night better would have been having my Dad there, forcing me to dance up the front with him.