Live Review: At The Edge of The Sea: The Wedding Present and Badly Drawn Boy

5 Sep

Concorde: Saturday, August 27 2011
  
I’d almost forgotten about Badly Drawn Boy. For what it’s worth he’s still scruffy, unshaven and wearing daft hats. The most pressing question, however, is when did he become such a witty, likeable bugger?

He shuffles on stage telling us he was going to cover tonight’s headliners, The Wedding Present, but, with a broad grin on his face, adds he “couldn’t be arsed because they are too miserable”.

The contrary so and so then covers Runaway by arch-miserablists The National instead.

For the next 45 minutes he rambles, charms and swoons his way through his solo set, cherry-picking tracks from his 14-year back catalogue.

We get Disillusion off 2000’s The Hour of Bewilderbeast, but not before he reminds us it beat Coldplay to that year’s Mercury prize. With killer comic timing, however, he interrupts the cheers to deadpan, “mind you, they had the last laugh; they’re billionaires and I’m playing here”.

In case there was any danger of this slipping into some light-hearted, laugh-a-minute, comedy campfire set, he shows he can still stop you in your tracks with the tender and beautiful I Keep The Things You Throwaway. He still has a bit of bile too, as a heckler can testify. “You can shout what you like, I’m bullet proof you cunt,” he spat.

He wasn’t the only one to take a panning. Morrissey is branded “a twat” ahead of a cover of Please. Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want, before he rediscovers his cheery demeanour, ending on The Shining after it was requested by someone in the crowd.

Tonight Badly Drawn Boy is humorous, dry, cutting, bitter and, above all, armed with better songs than you remember. So much for forgetting about him, he’s close to becoming a national treasure.

As impressive as he was, though, the vast majority of those present were primarily here for The Wedding Present.

This, the annual all-dayer curated by frontman David Gedge, is something of annual pilgrimage for hardcore fans.

As such – and with it being staged 24 years after the release of debut LP George Best – it’s fair to say the venue isn’t rammed full of kids. Those here though, certainly know their stuff.

It’s a point alluded to by Gedge a couple of songs in when he says they are about to play three new tracks, “in case people want to go for a wee”.

To be fair, no-one budges and while the new numbers are warmly received, the cheers are dwarfed by the response reserved for 1991s Rotterdam, which is rattled out with youthful abandon.

They maintain the pace, swiftly dispatching Crawl – “This one IS a bit miserable”, jokes Gedge, before bantering with the crowd about some of their “predictable” requests.

There’s just time for him to ask everyone if he should stage the event again next year – the answer is a resounding yes – before they end a taut and tight hour-long set with Palisades.

There’s no encore, no fanfare and little nostalgic nonsense. Gedge seems clear; The Wedding Present lives on, so why spend all your time looking back?

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