The Wedding Present (Leeds O2, 30 December)

The Wedding Present

Led by singer-songwriter-guitarist Dave Gedge and bursting on to the indie scene in the mid 80’s, the Weddoes delivered kitchen sink dramas in the form of jingly-jangly guitar pop buried in hyperactively thrashed guitars. There were always good songs in there but you had to find them over a few listens.

They disappeared from the indie charts almost as soon as they rose but continued to make records (for a while as Cinerama). The style remained similar though the thrash guitars retreated a little to let the songs out a bit more. And they continue to tour, playing the same mix of old and new stuff without fuss or accolades but with a core of pretty devoted followers.

Anyone who’s been to a Wedding Present gig pretty much knows what they’re going to get but that’s part of the fun. No requests – ever. Gedge has his playlist for the night and will not deviate from it, no matter how many people shout out for a particular song. No encores – ever. Gedge thinks they’re daft and stopped doing them in 1989.

The old songs are more popular with the crowd; perhaps they’re the strongest but a fair proportion of the crowd are of my age and older and heard the older songs, like me, when they were younger and so were more affected by them. Some of the new songs, to be released on a 2012 album, are excellent, even on first listen.

The band are solid but the focus is, as ever, Gedge himself. Between songs, his banter is minimalist; wry, funny, slightly taciturn – almost curmudgeonly – but, once the song starts, Gedge really inhabits the song, not just playing it but properly performing it. This, Fleet Foxes, is what stagemancraft is all about. Not quite my favourite gig of the year, but only because I’ve seen so many good ones already, and a fantastic way to end 2011.

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