The Wedding Present | Bowery Ballroom | 3.08.2006

I have seen The Wedding Present upwards of ten times over the last 14 years. The first time was in 1992 at the old 9:30 Club in Washington DC. They were touring America for the US release of Seamonsters, but they were in the midst of their year-long assault on the British charts, releasing a new single every month — all of which made the UK top 30, tying Elvis’ record for most hit singles in one year.

Through countless lineup changes I remained, and still have the long-sleeve Watusi t-shirt somewhere in my apartment. The Wedding Present are one of my favorite bands ever. I thought Cinerama were worthy as well. In fact I feel David Gedge has produced two absolute classic masterpieces: TWP’s Seamonsters and Cinerama’s Disco Volante.

Anyhoo, The Wedding Present played Bowery Ballroom on March 8 and I was there. The lineup was significantly different than their show last year. Simon Cleave, who’d been with the Weddoes, and later Cinerama, since 1996 or so, declined this tour. His replacement was their guitar tech, a young kid in a too-big longsleeve t-shirt who played nervously at first but came into his own four or five songs in. The drummer was also new, a really really young guy who I wouldn’t be surprised if he was born after TWP got their start. But he was solid.

Apart from a growing paunch and dyed-black hair, Gedge was Gedge. He’s 45, but can still play like his arm’s on fire. It never gets old.

Some have said the setlists on this tour aren’t as hit-heavy, but I have to disagree. Sure, maybe there’s no "My Favorite Dress," "Kennedy" or "California," but any set that contains "Brassneck," "Suck," "Come Play with Me," "Heather" and "A Million Miles" cannot be considered a disappointment. Plus, they did their cover of Julie Cruise’s "Falling" (the Twin Peaks‘ theme)… and they never play their covers. That was awesome.

What was not awesome was the crowd, which was full of a bunch of drunk jerks. I sort of expect this these days at Weddoes shows, but Wednesday seemed worse than normal. There was an obliterated young couple standing in front of us that made out for almost the entire first half of the set, and were stumbling/crashing into people the whole time. But they couldn’t deter my good time completely.

Maybe the best thing about the show was that the audience wasn’t just there to hear the old hits. When they launched into "Ringway to Seatac" (from last year’s quite good Take Fountain) the crowd exploded — it rivaled "Brassneck" for enthusiasm. My only quibble is that more Cinerama songs could have been worked into the set, and I personally think every show should contain "Dalliance," perhaps The Wedding Present’s greatest song ever. Also, they seem to be playing the exact same setlist in the exact same order at every show. But Gedge is still writing great songs, and even though at one point he claimed he was "getting too old for this," audience response showed otherwise.

MP3: The Wedding Present – "Falling" (the b-side to the 1992 single "Silver Shorts")

Photo is actually from The Wedding Present’s DC show, courtesy Information Leafblower‘s Flickr photostream.

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