The crowd was thin last night at the Middle East for the Wedding Present. The competition was stiff. Stereolab was playing elsewhere and the Red Sox had a playoff game. The Weddoes are now indie rock stalwarts, unlikely to suddenly be trendy with the emo kids. But the band do what they do so well that they've earned more than their limited cult following.
They opened with "Kennedy." Considering how literal David Gedge's lyrics are, often dialog-based, it is a puzzle not only trying to figure out what the song is about but also how wrote something so out of character. But the song was so exuberant that it just didn't matter. They blazed through their catalog and highlighted their latest release, El Rey. The most enthralling was "Dalliance," watching Gedge once again try to saw a guitar in half with his bare hands and seething, "I was yours for seven years/Is that what you call a dalliance?"
Although Christopher McConville's guitar playing was in fine form, the guy looked like he hadn't slept in a week. Bed head, stubble and bags under the eyes go beyond an indie rock aesthetic to merely disheveled. Gedge was his usual timeless self, indistinguishable from what he looked like in 1990 when I discovered the band except for slightly shorter hair. In my years in Chicago, I never happened upon him when he was frequently in town recording, so I don't know if he owns anything other than plain black t-shirts or if he just saves them for concerts. Terry de Castro's rumbling bass anchored the proceedings, and she looked quite stylish in a red sheath dress and brown boots.
Someone called out, "Do you know any Coldplay songs?" Gedge acknowledged that he barely knows his own songs and had to repeatedly apologize for not taking requests for songs they hadn't rehearsed until someone who was pressed up against the stage read "My Favourite Dress" off the set list. In this case "set" list also meant "fixed" rather than maleable.
The set list:
It's For You
Don't Take Me Home Until I'm Drunk
You Should Always Keep In Touch With Your Friends
Spider Man on Hollywood
You Turn Me On
My Favourite Dress
Model, Actress, Whatever