The Wedding Present - The Brickyard, Carlisle
Few artists remain as quietly comfortable with their back catalogue as The Wedding Present's David Gedge. This current tour, built upon a straight run-through 1991's Seamonsters is the third time he's undertaken such a project (previous tours have re-visited George Best and Bizarro) so in Gedge's eyes at least, there are few of the dark corners or embarrassments most artists admit over late night drinks in hotel bars.
But first Toquiwa, the first non-Gedge-related signing to the Scopitones label. The diminutive trio from Tokyo worked hard to win over a coy crowd with a combination of party rock and J-punk energy typified by the opening cover of 'I Want You Back' and the kandy pop of 'Tokyo Merry-Go-Round'. A version of the headliners' 'Kennedy' and a little bit of (muted) audience participation goes some way towards rousing the dour denizens of the Border City, quite an achievement for a Tuesday night in November.
Some aficionados consider 1991's Seamonsters to be as good as The Wedding Present ever got; certainly the recording sessions at Pachyderm Studios (where producer Steve Albini would record Nirvana's In Utero) gave the material an honest lustre that sat well with the grunge and alt.rock sounds emanating from the States, while the slightly slower tempos hushed critics who decried the band as one trick ponies.
Gedge remains the avuncular narrator of nearly 30 years' worth of, shall we say, complicated affairs of the heart, ably supported by a relatively new back-up band who propel through the setlist, bookending the main piece with audience favourites like 'My Favourite Dress' and 'Take Me' and a smattering of numbers from elsewhere in the back catalogue. The number of broken guitar strings are a testament to Gedge's ongoing commitment to the cause (either that or he needs to have a word with his guitar tech) while highlight 'Corduroy' rolls back the years to a time when British indie bands could still go cheek-to-cheek with their American cousins.
Having not played Carlisle in 16 years - just prior to an eight-year sabbatical - Gedge jokes they'll be back in 2028. It's funny, because it might just be true.