The Wedding Present
Hebden Bridge Trades Club
It’s barely a 70-mile round-trip to Hebden Bridge, although you’d think it was far more judging by that old Roses rivalry sometimes.
Yet there are no borders for The Wedding Present, a band with Manchester as well as Leeds heritage, revered in indie circles just as much on our side of the Pennines.
Their Preston dates, for example, span from January 86 at the Twang Club through to December 2010 at 53 Degrees.
And while The Boy Gedge – as John Peel lovingly referred to him – is Brighton-based these days, the man who wrote I’m From Further North Than You still coverts his ventures up-country.
Next year his band celebrates 30 years as an item – Wedded bliss you could say – and this two-nighter was something of a preparation for that, at a time when they’re set to issue deluxe editions of their first eight albums.
They’re at Blackburn King George’s Hall in November as part of a Watusi 20th anniversary tour, but this boy couldn’t wait and decided on a trip to the mystical East, for what proved to be a memorable summer night at an intimate venue.
And what better surroundings to see the band, at a club not far removed from Preston’s own Continental venue.
And like Wire’s visit to the Conti last summer, this too was something of a hot-spot, the band resorting to lots of cold drinks and towels to get by between songs.
The sound levels took a while to sort, and on-loan guitarist Sam seemed to struggle to work his tortured fingers at Gedge’s trademark breakneck speed.
Yet bassist Katharine made it look effortless at times, drummer Charlie laboured away, and occasional fifth member Danielle added occasional keyboard and sumptuous harmonies.
Having warmed up with The Thing I Like Best About Him is His Girlfriend, the levels were tweaked in time for 1988 single Nobody’s Twisting Your Arm, as something of an alternative hits package unfolded.
Seamonsters’ blistering Suck was followed by 2012’s Meet Cute, David and Danielle’s vocals complementing that sheer guitar power.
Those searing six-strings shone on last year’s Two Bridges, then Take Fountain’s Ringway to SeaTac and Valentina’s 524 Fidelio, the harmonies spot-on.
Gedge’s hymn to optimism Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah was followed by Mini’s Convertible before the Watusi preps continued with Click Click then Swimming Pools and Movie Stars.
Band and audience alike were at fever pitch for 1990’s hypnotic Crawl and crowd favourite Brassneck, while Big Rat and Let Him Have It took us further into Watusi.
The Fall influence showed on 1995’s inventive Sucker, bringing back memories of earlier Manchester Hop and Grape forays.
When I feared it couldn’t get any better there was 1992’s Blue Eyes and – never sullied by age – My Favourite Dress from five years earlier, the sweat pouring as we moved on to Bizarro’s Granadaland and Bewitched.
Then we were despatched home on a further high with 1986’s pre-social-messaging era anthem You Should Always Keep in Touch with Your Friends, concluding a perfect night in Yorkshire’s Happy Valley.