Often regarded, perhaps unfairly, as a close sonic relative of the Smith’s jangly pop masterpiece ‘The Queen is dead’, 1987’s debut album by The Wedding Present, ‘George Best’, may actually feel more at home placed in the punk section of music stores rather than the indie sections.
Whilst influence by the sound of Marr and the lyrics of Morrissey should, and could, never be doubted, the album seems to owe most of it’s anger and spirit to the poppier masters of punk, particularly The Undertones and The Buzzcocks. In fact, even the records name and the presence of Best in original promotional shots for the album seems to smack of a, punk-style, two fingered salute to both ‘the man’ and to fashionistas who were driving Indie’s early 80s, underground, secret club into the mainstream.
Re-created live, in aid’s of Best’ 30 year anniversary, what we are able to hear, and see, is an album that is both very angry, and very punk, at it’s core. Led by the ‘Present’s lead vocalist, guitarist and only constant member, David Gedge, the band play loud and intensely; in testimony to his 30 year plus work rate his playing is still incredibly adept and provides guidance to other indie heroes who have moved into semi-retirement, become ring rusty, and struggle to play their original masterpieces. Watching his performance of ‘Shatner’ in particular is a joy, both in terms of guitar playing and also physicality; it’s not a surprise to see him snap guitar strings throughout the night given the intensity of his playing. He was 57 a few months ago.
For physicality, songs and the ability to watch a man as dedicated to his craft as he has always been, this is inspirational. Fans of punk define the movement as a way of life; perhaps Gedge would say the same about his life.