Gig Review by Simon Saynor with Photography by Mark Loraine

There’s gigs, there’s great gigs and then there’s gigs when everything is just perfect and lodges itself permanently in your music sodden brain. For the perfect gig certain things have to fall into place, in this writer’s humble opinion. The venue has to be intimate but large enough not to feel claustrophobic. The sound has to be top notch. We’ve all been at gigs where the sound is such a mess that a band can be 2 minutes into a song before you realise you know said song, and know it well. The crowd have to be up for it without being over the top. The bands have to be on fire but more than that they have to be enjoying themselves. A band who look like they don’t want to be there are just no fun at all.

The Wedding Present

Tonight we were spoiled. The planets aligned. Everything fell into place. It was epic.

Sadly with the early door times we missed The Lottery Winners but were in place and ready for The Semi-Legendary Wedding Present (Dave Gedge’s words – I’d have gone with just legendary). They’re one of my favourite bands and have been since I first flung myself round a dance floor to Kennedy some time in the late ‘80s.

The Wedding Present

One of the things I love about The Wedding Present live is the unpredictability of the set list. With a back catalogue of 8 studio albums (11 if you include compilations Tommy and The Hit Parade albums) there’s plenty to go at and every time I’ve seen them something unexpected pops up. For instance this is the first time I’ve ever seen My Favourite Dress live and Kennedy slips in as third song despite its obvious merits as a show closer.

The Wedding Present

They come on stage individually, Charles Layton thumping out the beat before Katherine Wallinger adds some filthy bass. Samuel Beer-Pearce throws his guitar into the mix and as The Boy Gedge walks on stage we’re into You Should Always Keep In Touch With Your Friends which if memory serves pre-dates debut album George Best. There have been many, many line up changes over the years with Dave Gedge as the only constant but this for me is their finest incarnation. So tight on stage and as hinted at before a band thoroughly enjoying themselves. It’s a full on set with Watusi’s Click, Click and My Favourite Dress being personal highlights. ‘In amongst these, frankly, indie classics we’re gonna play a couple of new songs’. One of these, Rachel, is very special indeed. ‘If record shops still existed this would be a single’. As someone who owns a record shop I may campaign for a 7” release! It’s brilliant and bodes very well indeed for new album Going, Going which comes out in September. All too soon Dave introduces the band, thanks us all and launches into Brassneck. The crowd are all over it. It’s beautiful mayhem.

Set List:
You Should Always Keep In Touch With Your Friends
Why Are You Being So Reasonable Now?
Kennedy
Fifty-Six
Corduroy
Broken Bow
Click, Click
Interstate 5
My Favourite Dress
Rachel
Blue Eyes
Dalliance
Brassneck

The one drawback tonight was the venue only having one toilet in use. It’s The Wonder Stuff’s 30th anniversary tour. Basic maths says the average age of the crowd will be over 40. You probably don’t need me to elaborate any further.

The Wonder Stuff

Despite my best efforts I’ve somehow managed to miss The Wonder Stuff live since Glastonbury 1989 so was particularly looking forward to celebrating our 30 year anniversary.

The Wonder Stuff

They could only really open with one song. Audio snippets from their thirty year history echo round Leeds O2 as the band walk on stage and launch into Thirty Years In The Bathroom. It’s a blistering start though my first thoughts are how Miles Hunt has aged far much better than me since I last saw them 27 years ago. He owns the stage with what can only be called an impish like infectiousness. The crowd love him and he loves them right back. He is genuinely pleased to be there and we’re genuinely pleased to celebrate with him.

Similarly to The Weddoes there’s quite a back catalogue to go at and we get treated to an all eras Wonder Stuff set. Play, On The Ropes, Red Berry Joy Town, Caught In My Shadow, it’s relentless. All interspersed with Miles’ perfect stage craft.

The Wonder Stuff

‘It’s that part that crowds hate. This is a new song’ greeted by good natured boos. ‘The song’s in D. At least boo in key.’ We gladly boo in a close representation of the key of D. ‘Pretty good Leeds’ and new song For The Broken Hearted kicks in. Again, similar to The Wedding Present and their new songs, The Wonder Stuff show that time hasn’t dampened their song writing skills. It’s magnificent. The band plough through Golden Green (’Fancy a country hoe down?’) and The Size Of A Cow (‘When The Wonder Stuff have a piano you know that can only mean one thing’). Miles pauses to talk about the friends they’ve made in the thirty years of The Stuffies and to the people they’ve lost. The next song is dedicated to founding Wonder Stuff members The Bass Thing and Martin Gilks and to Kirsty MacColl who sang this with us many times – ‘Welcome To The Cheap Seats’. It is a genuinely touching moment.

The Wonder StuffThe Wonder Stuff

It’s another array of indie classics, Miles still working the crowd with consummate ease:
‘Let’s ditch the set list. Any requests? I know you’re all saying one word. Dizzy? Well as it happens, would you welcome to the stage Mr. Vic…. Nah only kidding. I’ve got one for you’ and the crowd are off on a massive singalong of Don’t Let Me Down Gently. It’s non stop now, the band going from song to song. Another band who have endured many line up changes but this particular version is just sublime.

The Wonder Stuff

Encore time and I’m particularly spoiled. Hup is not only my favourite Wonder Stuff album it’s one of my favourite albums full stop. The encore consists of 4 songs from Hup and It’s Yer Money I’m After Baby. They start with my favourite Stuffie’s moment in Can’t Shape Up into Cartoon Boyfriend and Piece Of Sky. As with the opener they have the perfect song to close with, Good Night Though – ‘Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye, goodbye. So long, so long, so long.’ ‘This stairway ain’t to heaven this one’s to oblivion’ and that’s how they play it. It’s a feedback frenzy of glorious noise. And with Miles showering us in blown kisses it’s over. I’ve been grinning from the opening bass thump of You Should Always Keep In Touch With Your Friends all the way through to the loud hailer caterwauling of Good Night Though.

The Wonder Stuff

Another sign of the perfect gig – the inane grin that you just can’t shake.


Set list:
Thirty Years In The Bathroom
Play
Here Comes Everyone
On The Ropes
Red Berry Joy Town
Caught In My Shadow
For The Broken Hearted
Mission Town
Circlesquare
Golden Green
The Size Of A Cow
Welcome To The Cheap Seats
Donation
Be Thy Name
Don’t Let Me Down Gently
A Wish Away
Radio Ass Kiss
Unbearable
Give Give Give Me More More More
Ten Trenches Deep
Can’t Shape Up
Cartoon Boyfriend
Piece Of Sky
It’s Yer Money I’m After Baby
Good Night Though

The Wonder Stuff

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