by / December 14th, 2010 /

The Wedding Present – The O2 Academy, Oxford

As Dave Gedge breaks a string and tries to manually tune his guitar on stage tonight, one of the audience members shouts up “You don’t get this carry on at X-Factor.”

Indeed you certainly don’t, and if Simon Cowell and his smarmy little panel of judges could watch this performance tonight – they might just learn a thing or two about originality, credibility and charisma from the front man of The Wedding Present.

Before storming into the main task of playing the cult classic record Bizzaro, in its entirety, the band warm up with a half an hour of songs, old and new, to get the crowd in the mood. But it’s when the familiar voice of the late John Peel plays over the PA announcing in the first song ‘Brassneck’ that the crowd work their way into a frenzy, finally getting what they have come to hear.

21 years on since Bizzaro was recorded, it’s interesting to watch a 50 year old man sing about “changing the posters on your wall”, and the lyrics to ‘Kennedy’:” Lost your love of life/ too much apple pie”, now seem to carry a whole new dimension to them.

Gedge’s youthful backing band, bring an invigorating energy to the performance, with Christopher McConville acting as both guitarist and second in command on drums in the raucous number ‘Granadaland’.

As a front man Gedge seems to be a seasoned pro at handling the hecklers/ obsessive fans that try to overpower his mid song banter. He tells the fans at one point that he wants to be bigger that Stephen Fry on Twitter, and that everyone should follow him, quite simply, because he wants to be adored.

The highlight of the night is the epic blues number ‘Take Me’ that sees Gedge loosing himself in a nine minute fury of playing his guitar like a machine gun in tandem with Charlie Layton’s furious beats from the snare. Ending on the subdued ‘Be Honest’ and with their signature no encore policy, they call it quits.

This business of rehashing old albums live can be a tiresome affair that lends itself into nothing more than sentimental drivel if the bands in question don’t have the enthusiasm to pull it off, but when they do, nostalgia and all, it’s a project worth executing.

Photo by Flickr CC.