Wednesday, April 27th, 2005
2, 3, Go
Four months into 2005 and we’ve got a front-runner for best show of the year. The revived Wedding Present exceeded all expectations with their set at Lee’s Palace last night, and they were pretty high expectations to begin with. I’ve done several posts recently about the band and how much I like them, so I’ll just get right to it.
Opening things up were Seattle’s Crystal Skulls – they were scheduled to start at 9:30 but they must have gotten the show time mixed up with the load-in time, because they only arrived with all their gear at half past. The didn’t get started until a little after ten and played a truncated set because of it. For whatever reason, I’d thought they were a power pop outfit or something, but they really weren’t. In fact, the pop was the one thing I found particularly lacking in their material. The dual intertwining guitars were very impressive, even stepping into amazing territory a couple times, and the musical arrangements were quite sophisticated without getting too “muso”. The only problem was that the hooks were too subtle, and while you could feel them fired across the bow, none of them actually hit. Perhaps the album would be a little more forthcoming with their charms? Either way, they ended up taking as much time setting up and tearing down as they did playing. Pity.
It’s funny what difference a name makes. Last time Gedge & co came through town, back in May 2001, it was as Cinerama and there were barely a couple hundred people in attendance, if even (they rocked the house regardless, for the record). This time, despite it being the same band, Lee’s was very nearly packed with folks itching to hear the old Wedding Present hits from back in the day (never mind that Cinerama had already incorporated Wedding Present tunes into their set in ’01). So despite having an excellent new album to promote in Take Fountain, the Wedding Present gave the crowd what they wanted with essentially a greatest hits set, drawing on the entire Wedding Present and Cinerama catalogs, from George Best through Torino, for one incredibly solid set of music. From the slow build of opener “Interstate 5” to the Seamonsters doubleshot of “Dalliance” and “Dare”, the band didn’t let up for nearly an hour and a half.
While I in no way felt that Cinerama had necessarily run its course as a vehicle for Gedge’s songs – I actually thought each subsequent album was better than the last – it’s undeniable that reverting to the Wedding Present moniker, and all the attention that has come with the move, has reinvigorated him. All night he was a study in intensity, all facial grimaces, impassioned vocals and a blur of a strumming hand, and a wry and charming frontman in-between. And there’s no way that he and guitarist Simon Cleave weren’t having a great time recreating the churning wall of guitars that defined so much of the earlier Wedding Present material. It’s good to see that even after being at it for twenty-odd years (Gedge doesn’t look anywhere near his 45 years), The Wedding Present is still a formidable act both in live performance and songwriting. And ever humble, despite being something of a legend to his fans, Dave Gedge still heads straight from the stage to the merch table to meet, greet and sell t-shirts. Fanboy that I am, I got my Take Fountain CD booklet autographed.
Maybe it’s a bit obvious declaring a veteran favourite band playing their best tunes as top show of the year thus far – I wouldn’t have expected anything less – but it doesn’t change the fact that it was one helluva show. And any concert where I come in at the young end of the age demographic is okay with me. Unless we’re talking, like, Yanni or Paul Simon or something. Voila les photos. Pretty good lighting made for some decent shots last night. I am pleased.
Happy news from Matador – the new New Pornographers album, Twin Cinema, will be hitting the streets August 23. The use of the definite article in the URL of the band’s website is very important. Update: Pitchfork has some more details on the album.
The Tears’ debut album Here Come The Tears has a new release date of June 6 in the UK. Not hearing anything about a North American release. Their website has been redone as well, though there’s still not too much in the way of info there – the only thing of note is the official bio.
Sweden’s Caesars are at the Mod Club June 13.
Arcade Fire tonight! By all accounts, last night’s show – the first of three – was epic. I am not anticipating getting close enough to get any decent pictures tonight, I’ll bet you there’s kids already lined up outside the Danforth Music Hall, but I will report back tomorrow regardless.
np – The Sleepy Jackson / Lovers