TOKYO (TR) – Last year, English indie band The Wedding Present marked the 30th anniversary of their debut release “George Best,” a collection of guitar pop songs about lost love, with a number of shows in which the album was played in its entirety.
The last-ever “George Best” show was in Leeds, England, from where the band hails, in December — and for David Gedge, the band’s singer-guitarist and only remaining original member, that is not necessarily disappointing.
“It’s my least favorite album by The Wedding Present,” said Gedge via Skype in March. “I think it’s the one that’s, kind of, of its era, and it sounds a bit dated to me now. It’s good fun to play live and I do like some of the songs, but, I think, because it was the first record, there’s a certain naiveté to it, and had we recorded those songs later they would have been different. But people do like it; it’s obviously like a debut album.”
This week, the four-piece will return to Japan for three shows to play selections from its three-decade career, a continuation of a relationship with the nation that began with — as Gedge says — an “amazing” experience in 1993.
“You kind of feel like a pop star,” he said, referring to that first visit. “It is almost like adulation. They want your autograph. They give you presents, film you. They follow you back to your restaurant. They follow you to the hotel, hanging around in the lobby to chat with you. For an alternative band from the U.K., that was a completely different world.”
Photo shoot with George Best
Founded in Leeds in 1985, The Wedding Present have released nine albums. The upcoming tour of Japan follows last year’s release of “George Best 30,” a re-recording of their debut.
For the original release, in 1987, the band did a promotional photo shoot with soccer legend George Best himself. “I hardly talked to him at all, really,” Gedge remembered. “I was awestruck. One of the reasons I called the album ‘George Best’ was because I grew up in Manchester and Manchester United were my football team, and he was obviously the star player in the ’60s and 70s. I kind of grew up with pictures of him on my wall, and being in the same room was quite scary, really.”
The next seven albums generally maintained the same guitar-pop arc of their debut. However, the band took a dramatic shift in 2016 with the release of “Going, Going…,” which is a multi-media experience that includes videos. Following last year’s “George Best” shows, Gedge now finds itself at a bit of a crossroads — but that suits him just fine.
“I feel like I’ve had this kind of schizophrenic situation over the last year or so. It keeps it interesting,” he said. “Since I started this group, I never wanted to go down a certain road and have the same sound and make the same record. I’ve always wanted to explore different avenues. I’ve always wanted to go on a tangent.”