Recorded in Seattle shortly before grunge exploded onto the world stage, The Wedding Present’s 1994 album Watusi received a fresh airing 20 years on at a sold-out Cluny.
Anniversary tours are becoming something of a speciality for the band, with this particular edition following on from similar shows for their first three albums in 2007, 2009 and 2011.
This particular album was described by NME critic Dele Fadele as a “northern vision of cobbled streets, telling it like it is” upon its release, a description that holds true not just for the album but the band’s entire output.
Though most of the night was given over to performing the Watusi album in its entirety, another 40-or-so minutes were devoted to the band’s past successes, including selections from a surprising collection of 15 top 40 singles.
As was to be expected, the positively, if pleasantly, received album run-through came first, before the show split neatly in two when they delved into the great Wedding Present songbook.
Had the night been devoted to one of The Wedding Present’s more heralded earlier albums, however, a more raucous response could have been expected than the somewhat lukewarm one that greeted a few of the Watsui numbers.
Yorkshire-born lead singer David Gedge serves as a prototype for every young northern songwriter that rose to prominence in the mid-2000s and his tales of broken relationships and heartbreak are the sort of gripes that have launched a thousand imitators.
It might be nearing 30 years since Gedge first brought together the first line-up of The Wedding Present, but even now – having cycled through more than 20 members, the line-up changing so often presumably even the band leader himself has lost count – the turnout at one of Newcastle’s premier venues stands as a tribute to their lasting success.
by Mikey Reynolds