The Wedding Present with The Container Drivers at The Slade Rooms Wolverhampton 16th July 2010

DLG topshot

What a relief! At last I’ve experienced the Slade Rooms packed to the gunwales and jumping, albeit in the dark. But for the fact that the gig was slated as a warm-up this should have been taking place at a bigger venue and five hundred odd Weddoes fans feeding off the energy generated by David Gedge and the band made this a memorable UK debut of the Bizarro Live tour.

It’s tempting to wonder how long the “seminal album” band wagon has to travel following the glut of these gigs in the last few years. The Wedding Present, like Echo and the Bunnymen and The Wonder Stuff, are already on to their second bite of the cherry following the George Best 20 outings.

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But Bizarro Live is no mere continuation of a procession of full album renditions for several reasons: the album is regarded by David Gedge as being the band’s first “proper” album, it was the first on a major label, and the the first to make a major impact in the USA. The current line-up have already toured this set in the USA and Japan and so the focus has been different this time around.

Nevertheless this is a tricky review for me; for two reasons. Firstly I have seen this band many more times than any other in the last twenty odd years so it’s hard to be objective, and secondly I spent most of the night as a fan in the mosh with the other thirty- and forty-something blokes. It’s hard to write or even keep mental notes of the usual Gedge repartee with some guy’s elbow in your throat.

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Leading up to the main event the set consisted of a mixture of favourites and new material. Dare and Corduroy were the highlights for the crowd and the first real tests of stamina with mayhem ensuing throughout and with a lot more to come. Being a long standing fan I’d rather more new stuff than the faves no matter how well they go down with the crowd but tonight there were just two new songs on offer. The excellent Deer Caught in the Headlights is a real Wedding Present song with its understated confusion about how to deal with the opposite sex (“you’re just too pretty for me”) harking back to the lust, love and jealousy themes of Gedge’s songs over the last twenty years, but (Bang Bang) You’re Dead is still an unknown quantity even having heard it several times; although complete with John Peel loop it leads nicely into Bizarro.

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Whilst there was a good sized crowd for The Container Drivers, proceedings were more sedate this side of the barrier during their set.

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Main man Sebastian “Keg” Davies wears his influences on his sleeve, and to great effect. Named after a song by The Fall the band have the happy knack making you feel that the style is familiar without being able to pin down which particular Fall or Pixies songs were the inspiration. A mixture of the old and new made up a short set with It Must Be The Pipes and They Found it Buried in the Ice standing out, but sadly no Ex-members of the Fall Club this time around.

Keg also compiled the loop of John Peel saying “The Wedding Present” over and over that the band uses to lead into Bizarro. I’ve heard this several times now and it always produces quite a poignant pause when the people in the crowd begin to recognise it right up until the final “right; from the LP Bizarro, this is Brassneck” and all hell breaking loose.

The main difference between this tour and George Best 20 is that the majority of the Bizarro songs have been played live in various set lists relatively recently. Brassneck, Kennedy and Take Me! have been staples of the live output for years. Of those that have been revived No is the epitome of Wedding Present songs and it’s fantastic to hear it in a live setting again.

Bizarro 21 shirts

This time around and in this set Take Me! is almost the real deal. No cut down version, (nearly nine minutes) and no extended breather in the middle. Both the band and the crowd really went for it in spite of a few technical glitches that left a lot of the burden of keeping up the relentless pace fairly and squarely on the shoulders of the man himself. At this pace it was a blessing that Be Honest was as always suitably low key and brief.

Gedge almost neglected to make his usual announcement but there was of course no encore.

Even the set list had been typed in the dark!

Setlist

Photographs – Stephanie Colledge
Review – Ian Gelling

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