“Who are you?” yelled a member of the audience at the Middle East downstairs a week ago Tuesday.
“Who am I?” replied Wedding Present frontman David Gedge. “Who am I exactly? It’s become almost a philosophical question.”
There are a few ways to take that exchange. After a long break to front the more atmospheric Cinerama, Gedge is once again leading the Wedding Present. The new Wedding Present album, Take Fountain, started as a Cinerama project. And then, there’s always been the disconnect between Gedge’s stardom overseas and his cult status here in the US.
It would have been perfect if Gedge and his three mates — long-time bassist Terry de Castro, drummer Charlie Layton, and guitarist Chris McConville — had replicated the layered, hushed sound and melancholic beauty of Take Fountain. It would have been nice had Gedge’s breathy, talk-sung vocals, his lyrics of relationships crashing on the rocks, cut through the musical clatter. But with no string section, horns, or the like, these were performers set on emphasizing the full-throttle acceleration of the new material and revisiting their early years as a post-punk band. They even played their first-ever single, “Go Out and Get ’Em Boy,” with Gedge calling it a “cool treat,” and Cinerama’s “2, 3, Go.” On the other hand, they omitted “Interstate 5,” the stately, muscular epic that kicks off Take Fountain, and the agonizingly glorious “Mars Sparkles Down on Me.”
Only four of the set’s 21 tunes were new. There were romantic disasters ( “I’m from Further North Than You”) and wishful reveries (“Love Slave”). Before kicking into the goodbye song “It’s Not You,” Gedge said, “Now we’re rockin’, aren’t we?” They were. There were brash rhythms, frequent tempo shifts, and an unwavering double-guitar blare. The new “Brassneck” had the feeling of an impending crash. The show was a little less widescreen and not as embittered or wistful as the band once were. It was simply a rockin’ good time, and I wish it had been a little less so.
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