“All the songs sound the same” says one of the band’s t-shirt designs, one of those insults that’s actually kind of a compliment – much like John Peel’s description of another of his all-time favourite The Fall as “always different, always the same”.
I made it to the venue in what turned out to be plenty of time for the support act, meaning I could partake of a vastly overpriced pint of Tuborg whilst sat at a table looking out from the bar area onto the stage, a position I kept during the opening act.
This was the Weddoes’ first visit to Liverpool since coming to town on their Hit Parade tour in October 2013, with the band now consisting of drummer Charlie Layton, Danielle Wadey on bass and very recent addition second guitarist Marcus Kain, alongside ever-present singer/guitarist David Gedge.
However, first up were Melys whose last material was the fine Life’s Too Short album released back in 2005, their fifth long player(including the Suikerspin compilation). I was surprised (but pleased) to find that I owned all five of these when digging some out ahead of the gig (plus a couple of ep’s).
Like the main act, they have a consistency to their sound over the years (though in a slightly mellower way), but I don’t think I found a duff track across their oeuvre that I own.
Having opened a bistro in their home town of Betwys-y-Coed, singer Andrea Adams and husband Paul on guitar/keyboards and are now playing with long-time bassist Rich Eardley, Aaron Watkinson on guitar and drummer Geraint Jones.
The band’s name is Welsh for “sweet”, and that word applies to their music, which also sparkled much like Andrea’s blusher and golden top.
Their set drew from across their career, highlighting the strength of their catalogue, with Chinese Whispers, voted number one in John Peel’s Festive Fifty for 2001, merely one of several highlights. Another track brought to mind a mutated Lee Hazlewood & Nancy Sinatra.
The audience filled up after the support act, as is usually the way, with a large chunk consisting of men of a certain age – the band t-shirts on show were probably first bought at shows when those acts were at the peak of their powers, and not as retro tokens of cool.
The venue was a veritable trip down memory lane as 90’s crusties Levellers were playing the larger room, but there was less hair in evidence downstairs, both amongst the band and crowd (including someone looking suspiciously like The Lottery Winners’ Thom Rylance).
Gedge had been roaming the venue before the show, watching some of Melys and chatting to fans at the merch stand, and his dry, engaging personality came through when he addressed the crowd at various points in the show.
This was the seventh time I have seen them over the years (putting them into clear fifth place in my personal gig attendance rankings, fact fans), with the first time coming at the Octagon at the University of Sheffield in October 1988 in support of the Why Are You being So Reasonable Now? single – a bargain at £4.50 a ticket.
I saw them twice more while at Sheffield, but after a show at The Garage in Islington in April 1994, I went more than thirteen years before seeing them again, this time at Koko in Camden for a George Best show.
The most recent time I had seen them was in the main room of tonight’s venue, when they were celebrating the 21st anniversary of Bizarro in November 2010. Tonight wasn’t a themed night at all, certainly to no great ill effect.
They started off with Give My Love To Kevin from debut album George Best, with their set cherry-picking from across their history, with some of the peaks being the half a dozen selected off this year’s Going, Going… release, such as the incredibly vital Two Bridges.
Some of the older songs suffered a little from Gedge no longer wanting (or being able?) to thrash at his guitar quite as he used to, with original guitarist Peter Solowka (who left way back in 1991) still sadly missed on this front. However, there was still great delight in hearing the likes of Go Out And Get ‘Em Boy or Brassneck again.
They’re a band renowned for their cover versions, from the sublime (The Go-Betweens, Girls At Our Best!) to the ridiculous (Elton John, Mud). Tonight they revisited the rather obscure The Jean-Paul Sartre Experience’s Mothers that they originally recorded in 1991.
After a glorious My Favourite Dress, they closed with 1992’s Flying Saucer (with thrashing in full effect this time) and then Santa Monica off the new album – a great way to conclude the set in both being a current number as well as one whose line “when you returned my smile, it all became worthwhile” a return to 1987’s A Million Miles (undoubtedly my favourite ever song of theirs, though there are many I love deeply).
There were lots of great songs that went un-played of course (Kennedy, Everyone Thinks He Looks Daft, Take Me!, Secretary and lots more), but the set was a great mix from across the years.
The band are back on tour for the umpteenth time next year, this time to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of George Best, although they won’t be hitting Liverpool then. So Manchester may be calling…
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Here is a lot of the music from the night on Spotify: