Saturday, March 11th, 2006
When do you stop calling a reunion tour a reunion tour? Maybe when the band comes through town for the second time in less than a year and the whole “only chance this lifetime” angle is no longer quite so compelling, or maybe when half the players have been replaced? If so, then last night’s Wedding Present gig wouldn’t qualify as a reunion show, just a really damn good one.
Since they were in town last April, the lineup has changed with the addition of a new drummer and longtime Gedge cohort Simon Cleave stepping aside for this tour. Since the roster of both The Wedding Present and Cinerama had been fairly fluid through the years, this wasn’t an especially big deal – both replacements were well up to the task and bassist Terry De Castro was still along for the ride to add her backing vocals to the mix. Perhaps because they didn’t necessarily feel like they were promoting 2005’s excellent Take Fountain, the setlist covered a much broader range of material than last time. Every album from the Wedding Present’s catalog was accounted for, including both Hit Parade collections and even a couple of Cinerama tunes. It’s interesting to see how things have turned around – it used to be that the audience would cheer when Cinerama would play Wedding Present tunes, now there’s a portion of the audience that’s thrilled when something from Cinerama gets an airing. Personally, I loved Cinerama just as much as the Wedding Present (and actually got into them first), so any nods to their material is alright with me.
The band powered through the set with efficiciency and aplomb, fitting 21 songs into about an hour twenty. Gedge, charming and self-effacing, took the time to remind the crowd that the band never played encores or requests, not that that stopped the audience from shouting them out at every given opportunity anyway. Lee’s Palace was damn near full on this night, an encouraging sign that the fans are remaining faithful and weren’t just sucked in last time by the reunion gimmick. As long as Gedge’s furious right hand doesn’t let up anytime soon, we will be there.
Opening things up on this night was one of my favourite new local acts, The Airfields. An excellent pick as openers, as their atmospheric jangle pop draws heavily on the spirit of C86 from which the Wedding Present also sprung forth. On this night they were celebrating the release of their new Laneways EP, which is a rather remarkable leap forward in sonics and songwriting from the shy, lo-fi bedroom pop of their City-State EP. Their live show, similarly, has made some significant strides – they’ve maintained their fragile charm while adding some muscle and teeth to their sound. At some points they got positively noisy, taking a page from the headliners’ book in discovering the merits of strumming your guitar really hard and fast. It would be nice if someone could step up to add backing vocals to David Lush’s whispery voice, some harmonies would really put things over the top, but even without they were doing pretty well. They still don’t quite have the presence or polish to really command a larger stage but judging from the enthusiastic response of the audience, the brass ring is there for them to reach out and take.
Photos from the gig here. And a consequence of the second go-around of touring is a second round of reunion-related interviews. Here’s a couple from The News & Observer and The Northwest Indiana Times.
Accompanying the Wedding Present on all dates on this tour except the Canadian ones are Brits Sally Crewe & The Sudden Moves. A new find, but their lean, swagger-y rock is immediately appealing. Hope someone brings em to town soon… Grok their MySpace and check out this song from their latest album Shortly After Take-Off.
Billboard talks to the director of the forthcoming Pixies reunion documentary loudQuietloud. He reveals that time has not healed all wounds between Pixies principals Frank Black and Kim Deal, but it seems that dollar bills make excellent bandages.
Now up in Wilco’s Roadcase – Jeff Tweedy’s February 25 solo show at the University of Chicago,
np – Jeff Tweedy / Live From Mandel Hall, University of Chicago