Gedge. Not a name that screams rock n roll, as I was reminded when I saw the Wedding Present play recently in Manchester. Gedge didn’t so much strut as shuffle on to the stage: I almost mistook him for a roadie. And ‘Boy’ seemed a bit of a misnomer too; ‘the boy all grown up and his beauty faded.’ Or so it seemed, until he began to sing that first number, ‘blonde,’ from the band’s most spectacular album, Seamonsters. As he closed his eyes and framed his mouth with his hands to inhabit that line ‘you won’t be getting in touch/do you ever?’ the years sank away and, suddenly, that dark glitter, that tenderness and venom returned.
But Byronic? Perhaps he isn’t the lyricist that Cave or Cohen is, perhaps his themes are narrow (remember the old Weddoes T-Shirt ‘All of Our Songs Sound the Same’?). But what themes! Even now, on Take Fountain, an album I dismissed on a first listen as ‘self parody’ still has the same ecstasies of rejection : ‘Interstate 5’ is as fine as anything on Bizarro or Best. Gedge might do well not to write happy love songs, however. The last two tracks on the album deal with a happy (phase) of a love affair. But to ring true, there needs to be a sadness inhabiting the words, a sadness that suddenly eludes him. Byron, I can’t help feeling, would have known better.