I’ve seen a few acts this year who are rightly considered to be musical legends. Graham Gouldman for one. Roger McGuinn for another. Crosby, Stills and Nash for another three.
Tonight’s gig at The Cluny answered a question that’s troubled me for a while; Is it possible to be a musical legend prior to the age at which you receive your bus pass and the right to free prescriptions? The answer came in the shape of an appearance by The Wedding Present which included a start to finish performance of their 20 year old classic album Watusi. And the answer was definitely “Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah.”
With The Cluny claustrophobically sold out, packed with discerning Wedding Present fans eager with anticipation of the Watusi tracks that they knew would be played in the first half and the hope that their own personal choices from an extensive back catalogue would show their faces in the second.
As is inevitably the way with gigs where complete albums are played the sense of surprise is a little lacking at first, because, let’s face it, everyone knows what the first section is going to sound like. This meant that the first half of the gig was reverentially rather than rapturously received and the album’s best track (and one of the best pop singles ever written if you ask me), ‘Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah’, tucked away in trap number three, had been and gone before the crowd were properly warmed up.
David described Watusi as “The lost album” because they left Island Records after its recording, leading to its premature deletion from their back catalogue. It still contains numerous gems, and on the night, alongside ‘Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah’ it was ‘Gazebo’, ‘Big Rat’ and ‘Catwoman’ that shone brightest.
Then, as Watusi disappeared into the distance there was a noticeable cranking up by both band and audience as the opening jangling chords of ‘Kennedy’ ushered in a considerably more energetic second half.
“This is a nice place isn’t it? Intimate” said Mr Gedge, deadpan (it’s “David” or “Mr. Gedge” he explained to one enthusiastic gig-goer, “not Gedgey”) before introducing us to a new song, ‘Bird’s Nest’, which was so freshly minted that a ring-binder appeared on stage just in case it hadn’t lodged permanently in David’s memory. Luckily the stationery’s introduction proved superfluous.
Favourite followed favourite and from the halfway point the reception was rapturous and wonderfully boisterous. The mournful ‘Perfect Blue’ was introduced as “one to lighten the mood” and the bitterly resigned ‘Nobody’s Twisting Your Arm’ was ushered in with a “Here’s one to take you back to ’88” from David.
The gig closed with ‘What Have I Said Now?’, which we were told, for the avoidance of doubt, would be the last song of the night. “Never played encores, never will.”
Reviewer: Neil Pace
Photographer: Graeme Baty