It's no surprise that many consider The Wedding Present to be the archetypal 80's indie band. Many of their songs - indeed, it sometimes seems like all of them - are introspective musings on heartbreak and general relationship meltdown. Add David Gedge, the Present's frontman and chief songwriter whose flat drawling voice makes Morrissey sound positively cheerful, and the image is complete. Indeed, John Peel once described The Wedding Present as the Leeds version of The Smiths, but in reality they defy such lazy comparisons. They are fully formed musical legends in their own right, at least to the dozens of obsessive fans in attendance tonight.
The band are on tour to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the release of their debut album, George Best. Much like the footballer it was named after, the album is packed with unpredictable brilliance, but unfortunately tires towards the end. It is performed tonight in its entirety, from the shimmering beauty of 'My Favourite Dress' to the pounding 'Anyone Can Make a Mistake.'
Age has been kind to David Gedge, and he's still more than capable of producing the intensity required for songs such as 'Everyone Thinks He Looks Daft!', which incidentally may well be the most cutting breakup song ever written. Gedge has always taken an uncompromising approach to songwriting. His strength is in capturing the petty, inner frustrations that any spurned lover has felt, and turning them into surprisingly joyful celebrations of life. It's just a shame that he has always used the same four chords to do so. But these are minor complaints. Anyone who has loved and lost, but survived long enough to laugh heartily about it, can relate to The Wedding Present. That, in itself, is something very special.