Mesmerising guitar sounds

The Wedding Present - Colchester Arts Centre, Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Carl Marston

The Wedding Present - Colchester Arts Centre, Tuesday, March 3, 2009

THE late John Peel would have approved.

His much-loved band The Wedding Present, whose fast-paced rhythm guitars struck a chord during the late 1980s, could be seen strutting their stuff in Colchester.

Little has changed since those halcyon days of the debut 1987 George Best album, named after the famous Northern Ireland and Manchester United winger whose profile also adorned the front cover.

Musically, I mean. In terms of personnel, The Wedding Present is really the much-loved life-time project of front-man and song writer David Gedge.

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Guitarists and drummers have come and gone. Gedge, though, has never budged an inch, with the exception of seven years from 1997 to 2004, when The Wedding Present (TWP) took a sabbatical of sorts, though to all intents and purposes the band was merely re-branded as Cinerama.

I have followed TWP since its inception. Like many others, I was introduced to their music from afar, in Edinburgh, by John Peel and his memorable “sessions” on Radio One.

Two decades on and Gedge rolled back the years at Colchester Arts Centre. As usual, he interacted with the crowd all evening, which began and ended with him manning the band's stall of souvenirs and T-shirts (his own version of a warm-up), a role you couldn't imagine Morrissey or Bono embracing.

In between, he took to the stage and teased punters with some of the great songs that he wouldn't be playing, mainly because they weren't on the play-list.

No one minded. He hasn't written many duff songs.

Songs old and new, one after the other, filled the old venue - a converted church - in a blur of heart-wrenching lyrics and mesmerising, whirlwind guitar sounds.

Old favourites like Kennedy, My Favourite Dress and Corduroy sat well with more recent gems such as Careless (Cinerama), Soup and Interstate Five.

During the gig, Gedge asked the crowd what Colchester was famous for. There were two replies, and neither of them referred to the town's claim to be the oldest recorded Roman town.

There was one shout for “Special Duties” (local punk band) and another for “the football club” (Colchester United).

Ironically, I should really have been in south Yorkshire reporting on the U's playing at Huddersfield Town on this particular evening. Instead, I delegated, and stayed nearer home to watch The Wedding Present.

It was the right decision. The U's drew 2-2 at Huddersfield, but not even they could compete with Gedge and his small entourage.

The late John Peel would indeed have approved. Appropriately, I will leave the last word with him:

“The boy Gedge has written some of the best love songs of the Rock 'n' Roll Era. You might dispute this, but I'm right and you're wrong.”

Carl Marston

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