The Wedding Present, The Resistance

Miss Fliss 02/09/2008

The sight of a guitarist in a Mansun tee shirt on stage looked hopeful. But as soon as the singer/frontman of support band The Resistance (in block capitals so you know to avoid them) opened his gargantuan mouth, I could do nothing but cringe. The music itself was a mildly pleasant explosion of Dandy Warhols and shoegazing psyche-rock. But this singer was all dominant desperate-to-be-a-rock-star presence and atonal drones. It was mostly tuneless protest march style shouting, as if he was the clarion call mouthpiece of some revolution and we all ought to owe gratitude. At one point, he uttered some nonsense about T.S. Eliot's Prufrock, before launching into a yelling spree involving the sloganeering: KIDS! This is your CULTURE! I felt as emotive as he about this fact. How bereft a state said culture is in, if this is what we have to put up with. Note to singer: you are not a rock god and we do not worship you just because you have dyed red spiky hair, eyeliner, a studded belt, tight jeans, and a snakey hips; you actually have to be able to sing as well, so don't give up the day job, but do give up your funny dreamt up notions and delusions.

I started thinking about my new snack invention of rice cakes with mango chutney and felt more culturally enlivened.

Sweet relief was the sight of the Gedge-meister taking to the stage. We knew we were in for some decent tunesmithery. Show me the songwriter who articulates so perfectly the wildly varying, detailed, and warts-and-all aspects of love and relationships so accurately as they are in living breathing forms, and it can only be David Gedge.

It was The Wedding Present's first visit to Cambridge since 1992, apparently. Thank God for that, Gedge seemed to be saying, since he got so much haranguing, comedy abuse, and general heckling from the near-capacity crowd. These were the faithfuls. Some had travelled from London, but you could tell that there were some locals who were at that very gig 16 years ago, and were electrified to be here again tonight. Gedge played up to the audience with wise-cracks of his own, turning the gig into pure show. At one moment, a song request filters through, Give my Love to Kevin! - cue Gedge nodding and saying, I will, I will... Can you believe that's the first time I've used that joke?, which falls a bit flat.

Something which does make me smirk, is the quaint camp way Gedge gesticulates whilst singing. He seems to be doing teapot impressions, and gesturing at squirrels.

Another side note: does Gedge own 20 versions of the exact same black top, or is it the same one night after night? Let's hope soap was in the rider..

There wasn't nearly enough material drawn from the staggering work of art that is 1991's Seamonsters album. But Crawl was a welcome addition to a set which was largely new stuff, and crowd classics from George Best. I will never understand the mosh-happy, singalong glee of My Favourite Dress in the face of so many other scores of classics from that LP (Shatner, A Million Miles), but perhaps a lot of the audience are of age to remember its 1987 indie hit credentials. Brassneck and Kennedy get staple inclusions, to which the moshing gets going like a good 'un, so much so that a short lady in front of me sees it fit to start propelling the po-goers away from her to ensure her own safety.

Not my ideal Weddoes setlist, but a fine night, and one to remind us what a steady slew of pop hits The Wedding Present have unleashed over the years, enough to ensure their status as a stalwart and genuinely classic indie band.