The Wedding Present + The Primitives
Koko, London
December 13, 2010

These are confusing times we live in. The past and the present have merged into one. Bands come back from the dead, sounding better than ever, artists who are clearly dead keep on making albums from beyond the grave, and bands will play their best album in full and it becomes ‘an event’. There are few albums in the history of music that deserve to be played in full (though tell that to Echo & The Bunnymen…), there’s always at least one track (or more) of filler, or one completely misjudged stinker, but nostalgia has a price and it pays handsomely, so hey, on with the show!

The World of David Gedge and The Wedding Present has never been a familiar one. The world of Bizarro (their 1989 2nd album) even less so. You may well ask, “what the hell were you doing there?”, well, it goes something like this… The Primitives were on the bill. It’s already been established that their reunion/reformation was one of the ‘holy shit’ high points on the Webcuts calendar for 2010. To give The Wedding Present their due, on the list of bands we’d like to see live, they surely sit, as does a lone copy of George Best in a collection of vinyl lurking in Webcuts’ off-continent archives.

A dedicated reader of the NME circa the late 80’s, The Wedding Present appeared to dominate with an unmistakable blend of English irritability and pub rock bludgeoning. David Gedge always sounded pissed off to me, even when the song clearly spoke otherwise. Their music was ramshackle in nature and relentless. A Leeds Velvet Underground minus Nico. Likewise, Coventry’s The Primitives were a band at their height in the late 80’s, and after 18 years of silence, are now enjoying their post-reunion rebirth. Old material is revived and refreshed, the rainbow-riffing “Crash” given a new vocal outro, and the old songs sounding as timelessly perfect as ever.

Selling out the Camden Palace (for those of you who remember it as such) is not an easy task, which can only validate how beloved The Wedding Present are. An opening set of old/new material, Gedge introduces one track as “this is the first time we’ve ever played this song… in London” to a cheer then a groan, but it’s the voice of John Peel introducing “Brassneck” that signals the proper start of the show. The rest of Bizarro is an indistinct unrelenting blur with the chugging guitars of “Kennedy” lodged somewhere in the middle. The pint-wielding slam dancing, crowd surfers at the front are in constant heaven but near the end where Gedge introduces “Take Me!” as being the longest song of the set with a “see you in 10 minutes” we pay our final respects and make a polite jog for the door.