On the cover of Torino, the latest full-length album by the British group Cinerama, there is a quote by the legendary British DJ John Peel that reads, “This boy Gedge has written some of the best love songs of the Rock ‘n’ Roll era. You may dispute this, but I’m right and you’re wrong.” One listen to the last track on that albumthe racy, grungily symphonic lament for lost love and innocence, “Health and Efficiency”ought to dispel any lingering urge to disputation the music-buying public may have. So how come David Gedge and his band only played in front of a mere fifty or so people at T.T. the Bear’s Place on June 27th?
After all, ’twasn’t always thus. In late eighties England, Gedge’s band, The Wedding Present, were 24-carat indie heroes. His famously “ordinary” face (the arguments in letters’ pages continued for weeks when he agreed to brush it with make-up for a photo session) stared from the front cover of every music paper, and his instantly recognizable songs, with titles like “I’m Not Always So Stupid,” “Everyone Thinks He Looks Daft,” and “What Did Your Last Servant Die Of?,” were the frenzy-inducing highlight of every student disco. His strumming speed was unrivalled, and his lyrics, delivered in his trademark Yorkshire growl, were bristling snapshots of boy-girl strife, vividly phrased like one side of a telephone conversation. Gedge joked that The Wedding Present were every Smiths fan’s second favorite band; a huge number of Smiths antagonists ranked them one place higher.
Yet now even girls can get within touching distance of Gedge’s overdrive pedal without the remotest fear of being trampled to death. There’s a new female presence in the band, too, most notably in the form of Gedge’s long-term girlfriend Sally Murrell. But fear notSally’s no embarrassingly talentless Linda McCartney. In fact, her keyboards and backing vocals have added a new dimension to Gedge’s songs. The compilation of Cinerama’s first four EPs, This Is Cinerama, is a veritable classic of intelligent, four-chord pop, and everyone ought to own at least three copies of it given the uncertain world we live in. More recently, on Torino and Disco Volante, the band’s sound has become increasingly guitar-soaked (a development surely linked with Murrell’s unexplained withdrawal from touring), but the quality remains undiminished.
How sad, then, to watch a sweaty Gedge step off the stage and go straight to the merchandising stand, while his fellow bandmates packed up their instruments. How sad to hear that he would be spending the night at the Comfort Inn. I mean, what kind of place is that for a living legend?
Not that you’d ever catch Gedge himself voicing such complaints. When you talk to him, his ego seems considerably smaller than those of most of the people who used to worship him. Indeed, if you ask my wife, she’ll tell you he’s the sweetest, not to mention the most handsome man on the planet. But then again, her taste in men has always been a bit strange…