The Wedding Present to start the week. An almost disastrous gig at Leeds Metropolitan University during the Sound City’96 Festival – a blown power supply right in the middle of Click Click threw everyone into a panic and the hall into total darkness, forcing emcee John Peel to do some fancy footwork while the crew went about fixing the problem. Fortunately for everyone; band, audience and radio listeners, the show went on after a little over 10 minutes and the band picked up right where it left off.
In case you didn’t already know, The Wedding Present are a British indie rock group originally formed in 1985 in Leeds, from the ashes of the Lost Pandas. The band’s music has evolved from fast-paced indie rock in the vein of their most obvious influences The Fall, Buzzcocks and Gang of Four to more varied forms. Throughout their career, they have been led by vocalist and guitarist David Gedge, the band’s only constant member.
The band has its origins in the Lost Pandas, which folded in 1984 when Janet Rigby, the drummer for the band, left following departure of guitarist Michael Duane.David Gedge and The Lost Pandas’ bass player, Keith Gregory, decided to continue the band, renaming it The Wedding Present. The name was jointly conceived by Gedge and his girlfriend at the time, as they were both avid fans of The Birthday Party and it was an homage to their favorite band.
The band spent most of 1993 taking time off, occasionally playing gigs. A stopgap compilation of three more archive radio sessions, Peel Sessions 1987-1990, was released by Strange Fruit. When they re-emerged in early 1994 with the news that they had signed to Island Records, it was quickly followed by the announcement that Gregory had left the band, due to lack of enthusiasm, and was replaced by Darren Belk. For their next album, The Wedding Present again left for the States and enlisted Steve Fisk (Screaming Trees, Nirvana). The result was Watusi. The album’s songs ranged from warm lo-fi pop (“Gazebo”, “Big Rat”) to semi-psychedelic, Velvets-like workouts (“Click Click”, “Catwoman”).
No further albums were recorded for Island, and the best part of 1995 was spent the same way as 1993: touring, writing new material, no recording. Paul Dorrington decided to quit the band; no replacement was made as Belk doubled on bass and guitar. In the autumn of 1995, The Wedding Present released “Sucker”, a self-financed single that was sold at their gigs only (it has since been included on compilation albums). Shortly after, the band signed with independent label Cooking Vinyl.
The band, still a three-piece, recorded their newly written material and issued the car-themed six-track mini-album, Mini. Belk played both guitar and bass on the songs but struggled at the lead instrument. Shortly after releasing the album, Jayne Lockey, who had already sung backing vocals on Mini, was announced as the band’s new bass player. Belk decided to quit the band and was replaced by Simon Cleave. Both Lockey and Cleave were former members of Tse Tse Fly, along with Paul Dorrington and Mark Goodham.
The band still had material from their sabbatical year and went into the studio again to record Saturnalia. This proved to be the last new material by The Wedding Present for a long time. After playing a number of gigs to support the album, the last one in Liverpool on 18 January 1997, the band took a long sabbatical.
The band resumed in 2004 and have been going strong ever since. 2017 saw the 30th anniversary of the release of George Best, an anniversary tour and a feature-length documentary about the record titled The Wedding Present: Something Left Behind.
For a reminder of their 1996 period, crank this one up and enjoy the hell out of it. It’s a great show.