Mojo’s Bar, Fremantle, July 16, 2017
It seems incredible and even somewhat unbelievable that despite their thirty odd years together as a successful touring band, legendary Brit indie veterans The Wedding Present had never made it to Western Australia for a show prior to their utterly triumphant performance at Mojos Bar in Fremantle last Sunday. Better late than never though.
Even with a date firmly locked in months beforehand, it looked as if the gods of rock were still conspiring to mess around with The Pressies right on the eve of their long-awaited Perth live debut. Due to a scheduling clash with Irish punkers The Undertones, David Gedge and co opted to move their show from a choice Saturday night slot to a much less desirable Sunday evening booking in order to give punters a chance to enjoy both bands. In the end, it was a gambit that paid off as the band got to play to a room full of excitable fans, some of whom had waited decades to catch them in action
Kicking off the evening for the Wedding Present at Mojos were local indie pop trio Rinehearts, the first of two very cool Perth bands on the bill. Led by singer/guitarist Benny J Ward, the Rinehearts trade in uber catchy power pop/garage rock of the charming, lo-fi kind and early arrivals at the bar like myself – the band were on promptly at half six in the evening – were rewarded for our punctuality with a storming set of super-fine originals that fizzed, fuzzed and sparkled with a righteous pop energy.
These guys have just released their debut offering, the six track Try Your Luck ep, and played most of the tracks from it on the night along with some killer new tracks. By the sound of the new tracks, especially an instantly appealing number called You Don’t Have To Lie which sounded like The Shangri-Las covered by The Ramones, the next Rinehearts release is going to be some record. Definitely a band to look out for, these fine fellows.
Up next were Dream Rimmy, an exhilarating local shoegaze/dream pop outfit featuring not one, or two but three guitar players, always a lovely sight that. Their music recalled the FX laden sound of My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive and even Warpaint – albeit poppier, more accessible versions of the aforementioned – with its seductive mix of hazy guitar wash, solid rhythmic grooves and trippy vocal melodies.
Numbering five on stage, these youthful looking boys and girls have the kind of trendy image, fashionable sound, tight stage act and most importantly, memorable songs – Oxygen and Landslide were the two standouts tracks in a short set full of impressive moments – that bodes well for a very bright future ahead. Play their cards right and Dream Rimmy could well be a potent force to be reckoned with sooner rather than later.
After two very impressive sets by the local contingent, the scene was all set for The Wedding Present to take to the stage and tear the roof off the sucker. And all credit to David Gedge – the only original member of the Pressies left now – and his compadres in sound for they wasted little time in getting down to precisely that, attacking the songs in their set with a gleeful abandon and infectious energy that totally belied their current standing as gruff, elder statesmen of old-fashioned indie rock.
On the night, the Weddos were well up for it and it totally showed, from Gedge’s trademark rhythmic thrash, the hallmark of the classic Wedding Present sound, to drummer Charles Layton’s hilarious, Keith Moon-esque facial gurns.
Kicking off with the buzzsaw assault of Bizarro’s standout track Brassneck, the band switched between back catalogue favourites like What Have I Said Now and You Should Always Keep In Touch With Your Friends and choice selections from their fantastic new album, last year’s Going Going Going, for the first section of their show. The Wedding Present do love a cover version and on the night, their interpretation of Mothers by Kiwi legends The John Paul Satre Experience got its debut airing. Sounded great it did too.
From the new record, Rachel – utterly superb on the night and correctly teased by Gedge as “the best song you’ll hear tonight” – Broken Bow and Bear sounded immense and came across like true gems. In fact, I have to say that the muscular sounding, post-rock inflected new material sounded superb and really enjoyable to listen to, fresh to the ears as they were and – dare I say it – rocked deeper and harder than some of the old chestnuts on the night, albeit in a more assured and less post-punk kind of way.
But as the group’s debut album George Best is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, the band took the opportunity to play the whole album in its entirety and what a blast (literally) it was to hear the likes of My Favourite Dress, Give My Love To Kevin and A Million Miles thrashed out live again. As Gedge himself admitted on stage on the night, the songs on George Best are a tad one dimensional, especially when played one after another, but who cares when they sound this good at full volume.
After playing the entire album from start to finish and in sequence, they was just enough time for fan favourite Kennedy to taken out for a whirl, sending the room into a heaving mass of slam-dancing forty somethings. Jackets got duly splashed with flying beer from the throng but there were no complaints. And then, that was it. Just under two hours and it was all over with no encores.
Thanks to the superior sound system and the highly skilled technicians working at Mojos, the sound coming out of the amps and PA were truly impeccable all night long making for an evening of brilliant rock action. Loud guitars were very much the order of the evening and such was the utter brilliance of the sound for all three acts that this particular Sunday night in Fremantle really did turn out to be one to remember.
After 32 long years, The Wedding Present finally made it to Western Australia and delivered the goods. As gifts go, their performance was just what the fans had been waiting so long for. Here’s hoping they don’t take another three decades to return to this side of the continent again.