Posted in SHOFT on Tuesday 30th May 2006 at 11:59pm

There have been a few times that I've almost not seen The Wedding Present in Bristol. The one that most immediately springs to mind is the overheating Volkswagen Golf expiring in The Centre on the way to The Fleece. Tonight, once again, it was almost not to be. Arrived early - the ticket said 7:00pm, and the doors opened on time, but regulars here obviously knew that this was wildly optimistic and almost no-one else turned up until a little before 8:00pm. Beer selection impossible - not even a keg bitter in sight. Figured that in a Carling sponsored venue, their offering would at least be cheap. Not so. At over three quid a pint, this is the most expensive beer I've ever been practically forced to buy! Around my second sip I remembered why I drink real ale and not this odd artificial concoction. Consoled myself that the music would start soon...

And then the lights went out...

Builders working nearby had severed a power cable, leaving us with only emergency lighting. The promoter kept us updated but it was clearly out of his hands. We just had to wait. If the power came back on by nine thirty, The Wedding Present would play. If not, it was a refund or a rescheduled date. The power was off for around 40 minutes by my reckoning, but it seemed to drag on forever. Calculated train times for an early departure. Soon they began to remove the support band's equipment from the stage - shame, I'd been looking forward to seeing Scarling. A little after 9:15pm the venue hummed back into life, and the lights came up. The stage was suddenly busy with people setting up for The Wedding Present, and bang on time David and Terry walked on stage to sing Shivers over the curious wurlitzer backing track.

And so the evening began in earnest. This is perhaps the most energetic I've seen David in ages. Every time the band is reinvented around him he seems to draw energy from the young incomers in an almost vampiric manner! When I last saw them, back in February 2005 the band soared majestically through new material and old songs alike. This time, it was noisy and tight - the sound, and a fair few of the song choices, coming straight from the Albini era of 1990-1991. From my perspective, they hadn't sounded better since the last time I saw them in this very venue - which I think was in 1992, when it was known as the Bristol Studio with its strange chicken-in-a-basket catering and alarmingly vibrating upper balcony!

The hits kept coming - a thunderous Dalliance, triumphant returns for old favourites Everyone Thinks He Looks Daft and You Should Always Keep In Touch With Your Friends, and a searing and chaotic Courduroy. Throughout, David was relaxed and talkative - taking mock offence at a fan's failure to remember his football team of choice with an exasperated "I know this man's face better than my Dad's but he forgets I support Man Utd!". Perhaps the most incredible trio of songs was saved for the end - an acerbic take on Brassneck, straight into a full-length version of Take Me (which was cruelly cut short here in 1992!) and then a majestic Octopussy - the strange track which closed 'Seamonsters' signalling with a storm of noise the end of that particular era of The Wedding Present.

I read that this might be the last tour for the reinvented Wedding Present for a while. If they're back, I'll be back. After all, there haven't been any other stormy love affairs which have lasted half my life!

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I've had a home on the web for more years than I care to remember, and a few kind souls persuade me it's worth persisting with keeping it updated. This current incarnation of the site is centred around the blog posts which began back in 1999 as 'the daylog' and continued through my travels and tribulations during the following years.

I don't get out and about nearly as much these days, but I do try to record significant events and trips for posterity. You may also have arrived here by following the trail to my former music blog Songs Heard On Fast Trains. That content is preserved here too.

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