The Wedding Present – George Best


I’ve been given license by the Silent Radio grandees to leave our Manchester stomping ground for unexplored North Walian pastures. Having been cruelly ruled out of the Manchester show with work commitments, I’m in Wrexham to watch The Wedding Present perform George Best in its entirety.

Album shows are a curious beast; Spiritualized’s Ladies and Gentlemen We’re Floating in Space is probably the best gig I’ve ever seen but you’d be hard pushed to find anyone who says the same about, say, Shed Seven doing A Maximum High.

Navigating genuine brilliance from the cash cow isn’t all too difficult and plenty of records deserve the reverence placed upon them and warrant celebrating.

In their 1987 debut, The Wedding Present created an indie classic, 100 mile an hour guitars and brutally honest tales of lust and heartbreak, delivered with an acerbic wit and more hooks than Captain Birdseye’s boat.

Songwriter and only surviving member David Gedge’s conversational lyrical style, not unlike Tom Waits, welcomes you into a three dimensional world of incidental characters and fragments of stories without all the facts. It’s appeal also lies in the kitchen sink drama, a protagonist frequently wronged and left with only the passive aggressive tone of songs like Give My Love to Kevin.

One thing I do know; The Weddoes, (as they’re affectionately known) are adored. Not by everyone, not by a long shot.  But they fall into a particular lineage of brilliant British guitar bands – the Jam and The Libertines among them – whose songwriting transcends typical indie rock platforms to create a fervent army of life-long devotees. One glance at the follicly-challenged pit that erupts during Kennedy elucidates this longevity nicely.

I may not be retracing the same nostalgia as the generally 40-plus crowd here, but on a floor so sticky I nearly lost a shoe, Central Station is a wonderful manifestation of the sweat-and-spilt-drinks club that is a rite of passage in every generation.

It’s a cracking venue with thunderous sound that deserves better than for the walls to be adorned with tribute acts like Korn Again and The CourtBetweeners rather than a wave of next-big-things.

Before commencing on George Best, there’s time for a handful of career spanning cuts. These beefed-up rock songs, kicked out with the same venom you’d associate with Shellac or My Bloody Valentine make for an interesting juxtaposition, before descending into the yearning, adolescent sound of their debut, like a rock’n’roll Benjamin Button.

A spoken outro to new song England and then, from seemingly nowhere, we’re into it; the urgent jangling of the fantastically-titled Everyone Thinks He Looks Daft is the launch pad for 40 minutes of frenetic, impassioned brilliance.

Played faithfully to the original 1987 release – which sadly means omitting Getting Nowhere Fast – Gedge leads the latest incarnation of The Wedding Present ferociously through song after song of glorious, bittersweet misery.

There are brilliant, catchy refrains at every turn, some which may seem corny if they weren’t just so much fun to shout along too – “I’ve never met anyone like you before!” – And of course all the more joyous bellowed in collective unison.

All around me there’s people grinning themselves stupid, high-fiving friends and looking longingly at loved ones. 30 years of a record that people fall head over heels in love with means 30 years of in-jokes, late nights and road trips. It means staggering out drenched with sweat and it certainly means you’re willing to go to Wrexham to watch the carnage unfold.  George Best in particular means all this and more.

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Joseph Curran

Features Editor and gig reviewer