At The Edge Of The Sea is David Gedge’s pet project. His annual mini-festival, in its fourth year, that (alongside the Holmfirth sister event) allows him to put on his favourite bands, his friend’s bands and play two sets of his own. These sets, the first with Cinerama and the second with The Wedding Present, book-end seven hours of music in Brighton’s Concorde 2.
Arriving at the venue you are treated to a fez wearing saw band playing in the bar (a make-shift second stage for the afternoon). It is an interesting opening and one that certainly catches your attention, even if the music is unlikely to be to everyone’s taste.
Drink in hand and ready in the main stage area it isn’t long before “The Boy Gedge” (as John Peel affectionately referred to him) makes his first appearance with Cinerama. The short sweet set doesn’t go down well with everyone but suited me down to the ground. The widescreen pop sound and songs from their early releases reflect the original Cinerama feel, before they essentially morphed back into The Wedding Present. It feels like a part-time thing, the act only play at this event once a year, but it is a lovely start to proceedings. The members of the band will become more and more familiar as they crop up in multiple acts throughout the day.
Through the afternoon there is a real variety of music on show forcing you to switch quickly from stage to stage. The folk-prog of Das Fenster features a surprise appearance by former House of Love and Levitation guitarist Terry Bickers. The Evil Son feature members of Cinerama and the Wedding Present and play a nice early 90s influence indie-rock sound that reminds me of the (largely forgotten) Drop Nineteens. Yaz Bebek (complete with band members rushing straight from the other stage) play an enjoyable and unusual jazzy Turkish pop set.
The bands throughout the day confirm Gedge’s later statement that probably nobody but him would like every band that played, but I would be surprised if anyone didn’t find something to like and nothing was less than interesting.
Anyone wanting to hear something that little bit noisier would have been delighted by Nightmare Air, a band playing their first ever gigs outside the US. This three piece had a huge sound and the three boards of effects peddles showed that this band was all about the electric guitar. The set was a lot of fun and the overall sound was brilliantly overblown. The only downside (and an inherent risk at a music festival) was that the sound mix was not right, with the vocals far too loud. This made them sound cartoonish when they should have been part of the wall of sound. Not a band I imagine listening to in my living room, but a band I would definitely recommend seeing live on stage.
Former Gene front-man Martin Rossiter’s set is probably the only bad bit of organisation all day, proving far too popular for the cramped bar stage. Unable to squeeze in I take the time to peruse the well stocked merch table, and flick through the “Tales From The Wedding Present” comic that is on sale. I even get the opportunity to chat to David Gedge himself, who proves to be a friendly and accommodating figure, clearly enjoying the day as much as the punters. Rossiter sounds in good voice and goes down very well with the crowd that made it in to see him.
Next on the main stage is Cud, and the reunited Leeds act play a set that goes down a storm with a very partisan crowd. I was not a big fan of the band first time round, and they don’t play a style of music that I love, but they play an undeniably great set. The performance is good, the crowd is enthused and the song choices are faultless – all the hits are accounted for with ‘Rich and Strange’ and ‘Only a Prawn in Whitby’ sounding pretty good. A lot of fun.
Even with all that has come before, this event is all about The Wedding Present and the venue is packed when they take the stage. The first few songs are some seldom played tracks including b-sides, a track from Saturnalia and the brilliant ‘Love Machine’ from mini. This short warm-up completed the main event begins, a full run-through of the 1991 Steve Albini recorded classic Seamonsters.
This is an album that I have listened to on and off for 21 years, and it sounds brilliant on stage in 2012. The wall of bass, drums and guitars blending perfectly with Gedge’s rough edged vocals and tales of troubled romance. ‘Dalliance’ is the perfect opening track and the album flows perfectly from there-on-in up to the epic conclusion with ‘Octopussy’. The crowd response is brilliant and I haven’t heard that much enthiusiastic singing along at a gig in years, especially with the wonderful ‘Dare’.
Once the album set is finished there is only enough time to play one more track, the evergreen ‘You Should Always Keep In Touch With Your Friends’. It is a prefect closer and the crowd are fully aware when the band leaves the stage that it is the end. This is The Wedding Present and they don’t play encores.
All in all this is a brilliant event, a bargain at £18, and one that I’ll happily attend next year. I’m already looking forward to hearing all the songs from the Hit Parade collection in 2013, and the following year the underrated Watusi.
Words by Dorian Rogers, pictures by Nic Newman.
To see more of Nic’s photographs from the day visit our Flickr gallery.