The Wedding Present live @ Roisín Dubh, Galway 3 November 2012

The increasingly jaded concept of bands touring a classic album from their back catalogue presents music fans with something of a dilemma. Do we ignore these blatant attempts by acts we once cherished to milk their past for all its worth, or do we yield to the nagging voice in our head that tells us that we might just miss something special? For many of us of a certain vintage, the Wedding Present are one of the iconic bands of the late 80s, an integral part of our formative music experiences. Their tales of love, lust and betrayal rendered in a uniquely gruff and conversational style by singer and chief songwriter David Gedge saw them elevated to the status of indie royalty during their golden period. Their debut album George Best and a series of subsequent singles saw them draw a rabidly devoted fan base, perhaps unmatched by any other British band of that era with the exception of The Smiths.

And then came the album Seamonsters – a great big ‘STOP’ sign blocking the cosy upward trajectory their career as indie popsters was taking. It is difficult to convey just how brave a move Seamonsters was for a band who had cornered the market in three minute pop rackets (the Wedding Present were always noisy, but they made a kind of cute noise).

Produced by Steve Albini, Seamonsters explored dark themes against the backdrop of a quiet loud quiet formula with a twist – they went quiet, loud, MONSTROUSLY LOUD and then back again. Rarely have guitars sounded quite as impressively huge before or since. Of course, it was all utterly magnificent – a five star album that has stood the test of time and is their best work by some distance.

And so it was we made our way to the Roisin Dubh on a bleak Saturday night with some degree of trepidation for what was billed as the ‘Seamonsters 21st Anniversary Tour’. Of the original line-up, only David Gedge remains, a stubbornly defiant presence who has continued to record as the Wedding Present through countless line-up changes. They opened the show with a number of songs from their new album ‘Valentina’ and some tracks from his now defunct Cinerama project. And it was all agreeably likeable and pleasant.

And then they played the opening notes of ‘Dalliance’, the dark brooding lead track from Seamonsters, and all our reservations instantly evaporated. For the next forty five minutes, this incarnation of the Wedding Present ripped through that classic album with an energy, verve and sympathy for the material we had no right to expect. And it was all truly wonderful. Songs like ‘Dare’, ‘Suck’, ‘Heather’ ‘Carolyn’ and an impossibly magnificent ‘Corduroy’ brought vividly back to life all these years later.

Was it all just about nostalgia? Maybe. But for ninety minutes, a group of mainly middle aged men and women, threw some funny dance floor shapes, sang their hearts out and wore smiles as broad as the River Corrib. They closed with the frenetic ‘Take Me, vintage Wedding Present, with that all too familiar choppy guitar strum blur.

And some of us were transported back to a time when music was everything, and the Wedding Present were the best part of that everything. A night of magic and wonder.