Monday, May 02, 2005
Pretty hard for any band to live up to the overblown expectations I had for last Thursday's Wedding Present appearance at the Middle East Downstairs in Cambridge, MA. The best shows are the ones that surprise you, and there was no way that David Gedge, Simon Cleave, and their recruited rhythm section were gonna do that for me. Still, they didn't exactly disappoint, and there's nothing quite so good as a triple-shot of 'Dalliance' into 'Dare' into 'What Have I Said Now?'. An amazing end to a 90-minute set that touched on nearly every phase of Gedge's 20 year songwriting career, including a bunch from his years in Cinerama.
The sound at the MidEast Down can be tricky (I'm being diplomatic), and I think some of the set suffered from a muffly mix and a weak drum sound... but it all depends on where you were standing. I'll also diplomatically note that their current drummer is just... adequate. Not bad, but certainly not as impressive as others that Gedge & co. have played with, like the fantastic Simon Smith from the Bizarro / Seamonsters days, or Cinerama drummer Kari Paavola. I guess I'm a little picky about the drumming details, being one and all, but there were lots of little fills and accents and hits that were noticably absent, especially on the older stuff. Then again, I'm so familiar with those songs that maybe no new drummer could live up.
Speaking of Cinerama, I think their last Boston appearance is the main reason I wasn't completely blown away this time... that 2003 TT's show set the bar very, very high. It was essentially the Wedding Present (Gedge and guitarist Simon Cleave along with Cinerama's Sally and Kari), and I was just stunned. They brought new energy to the Cinerama songs, and threw in four or five Weddoes ones (including a killer version of Dalliance) that just knocked me out. So even though this tour marks 'the return of The Wedding Present', it's almost in name only... in 2003 they were on stage in front of me. Not only that, but since the current setlist includes Cinerama songs, the difference lies soley in the drums and bass. I kinda wonder where the huge crowd at the Middle East was when Gedge was next door at the much-smaller TT's... but I guess you can't beat the lure of nostalgia, and the press that a perceived reformation can garner.
Still, I got to see one of my favorite bands (maybe the favorite), so far be it for me to complain. Everything's relative, right? Anytime Gedge comes to town is a gift, and I'll be hoping for another show this year.
I recorded the set, so here's the 21 songs for ya (oh, and I quite enjoyed openers Crystal Skulls, so I turned on the recorder for the last five songs of their set. I'll hopefully be sharing those up later on this week)....
The Wedding Present
live at the Middle East Downstairs
Thursday, April 28th, 2005
01. Interstate 5
04. Queen Anne
05. Go Go Dancer
06. Starry Eyed
08. My Favourite Dress
10. Health and Efficiency (spliced)
11. It's For You
12. The Queen of Outer Space
14. I'm From Further North Than You
16. Perfect Blue
17. Once More
18. Ringway to SeaTac
21. What Have I Said Now?
I was torn between getting near the stage vs. getting a good recording, so I compromised a bit. Unfortunately I ended up between an overly chatty trio and a guy who was competing for American Idol in his mind. I mean, at least the enthusiastic air-guitar guy in front of me wasn't louder than the band. Still, the recordings don't suffer too badly, despite the occasional unrequested vocal stylings.
Oh, and you'll no doubt notice that the mp3 of 'Health and Efficiency' is kinda messed up. Blame my relative inexperience with my new mini-disc recorder... the second half is lost to the digital ether. I ended up grabbing a chunk of mjlauf's torrented recording of the same show and spliced 'em together. Not ideal, but better than not including it at all, right?
If you're into the torrent thing, head on over to dime a dozen and grab the entire set as flac files (thanks again, mjlauf).
As long as I'm sharing, here are a couple more mp3s for Wedding Present fans...
I've been in a bunch of bands who rarely, if ever, did covers... but happily for me, two of them learned and recorded Weddoes songs.
In 1997, The Four Color Manual (Dan Scinta, Colin Clary, & myself) recorded the song 'Niagara' (a b-side of 'Dalliance') at a studio in Vermont for a Wedding Present tribute record that never came together. At least I don't think it did. Anyway, here 'tis...
the Also-Rans (who were this guy, this girl, this guy, this guy, and me) decided to take a stab at 'Dare' (off Seamonters), and ended up recording it in the basement for kicks. I think we played it out just once, maybe twice? Anyway, I think it came out pretty good, so here ya go...
live in cambridge, ma
on november 14th, 2008
previously: joy formidable - boston 2011
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