Tonight was a great night for the rock in Sydney (11 July).
Not only have we, in Gedge's own words, “the semi-legendary Wedding Present from the north of England”, but we have two of the best homegrown opening acts in ages, drenching us with waves of indie guitar smashing our Go-Between heads on the punk rock Pavement.
First up are Sachet from Sydney. Brandishing a Maccanbacker bass and jazzmaster/ SG axe double team, I feel in safe hands before hearing a note. And what wonderful notes. Vocalist/ axesmith Lani Crooks' voice is Blake Babies-era, Juliana Hatfieldian notes afloat over fast and loose downstrummed Weddoesesque rifferama. And a Lou Barlow-ness I can't put my finger on.
One tune has tempo changes a la 'Oh Geno' (Dexys Midnight Runners) and lunging riffs and it's magnificent. Highly recommended.
Next is Brisbane's Babaganouj. Somewhere on an Aussie plain never visited by man, two buff, adult male kangaroos, rather than kicking the shit out of each other to impress sheilaroos become friends. Simultaneously, black and a white lady cockatoos harvesting air, stories and melodies lands on the same rock. An ancient wind howls a poptastic air through a hollowed-out didgebranch, Bee Gee lightening strikes and Babaganouj are born!
Hopefully a suitably colourful intro to herald again the most colourful Aussie part 2. And this time with three vocalists sharing the testifying duties equally. It's MBV Wannadies fearless, distorted filthpop with gorgeous boy/ girl octave apart bits.
Star of the show is (Bjork-alike) Ruby McGregor, who has a voice that shines familiar but is yet new. She assures me in a post gig chat, her (non-Scottish side) people are Shanahans from the Emerald Isle. Fair dinkum.
My pal, drummer Mark Temple from The Hummingbirds is here too. Ruby heaps praise on this band, swears they cover their songs and suggest they tour together. I'm witnessing the circle of Aussie rock life. The roots and the fruits. Watch this space, you heard it here first folks.
Babaganouj’s Guitarist brainchild Charles Sale has his Mascisian solo game down. Close your eyes and he'll J you. And the drums are effortlessly, flawlessly on the money. The band are super tight. It's kinda perfect.
But all is not what it seems.
“Shouldn't have had that ice cream before the gig, I feel bloaty,” announces Harriet on bass. “Too much dairy?” “No, mine was a sorbet.” “Go paleo!” suggests a smart-arse in the crowd. 'Tis all very jovial. And now it's time for the main event.
Somewhere up north, past all known ravens and dragons, there's a forge. A forge that smelts broken-heart ore with wrought lyrics, annealed in bleeding heart buckets and hammered clean onto the hooves of thoroughbred master tunesmith David Gedge. Winter is here. And they're off!
No fuss. Just the hits from their 32-year career. The likes of openers 'Give My Love To Kevin', and 'Come Play With Me', the gloriously titled 'You Should Always Keep In Touch With Your Friends', and the anthemic 'My Favourite Dress' delight the gathered hoard of anorak-ed adorers.
The Weddoes have the laws of sonics, cymbals and steel strings cracked. Danielle Wadey's vrooming bass underpins jangling Gedgery and the shiniest, glitteriest, orangest Telecaster of Melburnian axeman Marcus Kain. Gedge's wrenched-heart facial expressions are matched only by drummer Charlie Layton's Supergrassian moves from behind the kit.
Then more from the 'Hit Parade', that 1992 Guinness world record setting endeavour that saw the Weddoes score 12 hits in a calendar year. A feat equalled only by Elvis Presley, so now 'Flying Saucer' and 'Love Slave' shine, although Gedge warns “avoid the video for this song. It won't enhance your life in anyway.” So without further ado... prepare to have your life enhanced!
They then serve up one for the bootleggers (one guy up front is recording the whole thing on his phone), their 1991 release, a cover of 'Mothers' by NZ's Jean Paul Sartre Experience.
Then it's time for The Wedding Present fact of the day. “Sydney is home to Australia's oldest street, George Street.” Somewhere in the dreamtime a Gadigal elder haroomphs. Stick to the tunes mate, hehe.
But hey, here comes 'Dalliance' and straight into 'Dare' from their 1991 Albini-recorded masterpiece 'Seamonsters'. It's preaching to the converted. It's a State Of Origin indie masterclass. It's Gedge still whinging years later about broken hearts and strangers hands on his favourite dress.
“We don't do encores. That's no reflection on you, it's just how we do things. To be able to come to the other side of the world and play these songs to you is a real privilege so thank you.”
Last song, 'Kennedy'. “Too much apple pie.” Back of the fookin' net. As my Limrock pal Smiggy, the world’s biggest Weddoes fan, might say: “Keep her lit Gedgey boy, fair fuckin' play to you boy. You fuckin' legend!”Click here to read the Brisbane review of The Wedding Present.