Gazebo is my favourite word. Even ahead of the oddly onomatopoeic gorgeous. This partly arises from the way it pops up in favourite play of the blog, Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia. Here’s a picture of Rufus Sewell playing Septimus Hodge in the first production of the play. et ipse in Arcadia est, if you will.
[Can’t get enough Latin puns, classical scholars? Sign up for the apoplectic Tiny Letter here. There’s a properly great song in it this week. Even though it’s not by Nerd Bait.]Septimus gets some of the best lines in Arcadia, viz:
Chater: You insulted my wife in the gazebo yesterday evening!
Septimus: You are mistaken. I made love to your wife in the gazebo. She asked me to meet her there, I have her note somewhere, I dare say I could find it for you, and if someone is putting it about that I did not turn up, by God, sir, it is a slander.
Little Ricky would have come across this first in hearing the BBC Radio 4 adaptation of Arcadia in 199…4? That same year, The Wedding Present released their album Watusi. Here’s track 3. You might imagine, I was quite excited to hear it.
Watusi‘s been one of the harder to pin down Wedding Present albums, because it was released on Island, who couldn’t really give a shit, as I understand it. But it’s just been re-released on the pleasingly-named Edsel Records. So, as trailed in last week’s Tiny Letter, Phonefinderoftheblogbeth and I went to The Liquid Rooms to see The Wedding Present play “Watusi and other songs.”
Beth and I don’t measure our relationship with coffee spoons. I think I’ve said somewhere that we can measure it in World Cups. But that may not be quite right, either. Too long a cycle.
This was the fourth (not third, Tiny Letter pals) time Beth and I have seen the Weddoes together. Previously, we’ve seen them play Bizarro, Seamonsters, and The Hit Parade in New York City. I guess the fact we keep going back is testament to the fact that Dave Gedge and his cohorts aren’t just going through the motions. And announcing in the traditional fashion after Bizarro that “We’ve been The Wedding Present, and as you probably know, we don’t do encores,” made such an impression on Longsufferinggirlfriendoftheblogbeth that she tweeted about it and soon found herself having The Wedding Present front man as her first famous Twitter follower.
And Pitchfork is being unfair, writing in their (positive) review of 2012’s Valentina, “Know how you can tell when a band is really excited about its new album? When the selling point of their tour is that they’re going to be playing all of an album they made 21 years ago.”
This isn’t the result of being a band that’s been around, on and off, since 1985. It’s more, I think, the result of having the fans of a band that’s been around, on and off, since 1985. We oldsters don’t always have our ears to the ground regarding new releases. I wouldn’t have been aware of 2005’s awesome comeback, Take Fountain, if I hadn’t taken Heytheresagirlintheaudienceoftheblogbeth to see the perfectly complementary Seamonsters. And Valentina‘s just been pinned to my Pinterest (I know) page of albums to buy once I’ve saved up.
Each time, it’s a less incongruous experience than seeing The Cure play at the Beacon Theatre on the Upper West Side. It’s clearly not that the large venue was a problem. The Cure have been stadium goth for longer than I’ve been listening to them, even. It’s more that it was weird to watch Bob Smith front his own Cure tribute band. And have the opportunity to buy a Robert Smith tote bag.
At the age where I broadcast my “cool” through the medium of tote bag.
— Ricky Brown (@ricky_ballboy) October 9, 2014
Actually, I passed on the bag. My “cool” consists of Rough Trade NYC, the Edinburgh Book Festival, and the University of Edinburgh’s School of Literature, Languages and Culture.
Hey, Dennis Hopper’s displaying at the Royal Academy of Arts. Back off, bro.
Conversely, Gedge’s band look and sound like an iteration of The Wedding Present. And you can’t be too hard on a guy who more or less invented a band sound that doesn’t sound quite like anyone else. Covered Pavement’s Box Elder when “they had only one self-released EP to their name“. Wrote twelve hit singles in a year. Then went off and reinvented himself as the co-lead of Cinerama. And even now, are changing their sound, per another review of Valentina.
So, fair play to David Gedge. The Weddoes continue, and adapt, and evolve. Bits change, even if the face stays the same, just a little older.
When the blog looked at NASA’s attempts to define Life, I discovered that their formulation declared life to be
[a] self-sustaining system capable of Darwinian evolution.
Now, I’m not saying that The Wedding Present is alive, but they look and sound great. Dave Gedge looks happy mingling with his audience at the merch stand before the venue starts to fill up. Playing Kennedy, which he described as his “love letter to America,” for a bunch of nights will keep a man trim. And he’ll happily joke about how the protagonists in his songs’ stories of doomed relationships are less likely to be overheard in an indiscretion now that they can slink off to send a text.
Even though The Wedding Present isn’t alive, there’s something to be said for keeping the best bits, a sense of humour, bouncing back from adversity, trying on different costumes, adapting, and enjoying who we are. Enduring. Surely it would be churlish to begrudge this…?