Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah
The Wedding Present
At The Edge Of The Sea

Concorde 2, Brighton - 23rd August 2014

David Gedge's At The Edge Of The Sea weekend festival of music is a firm date in the calendar these days and the smooth running of the event belies the huge amount of hard work that obviously goes into its production. Hosted by the Concorde 2, right on the Brighton seafront, the venue is split into two on both days, with the music kicking off at three in the afternoon and continuing just about unabated until The Wedding Present round off the evening just before ten o'clock. With both the Weddoes and Cinerama playing both nights, there's a fair bit of work for the main man to get through, but he seems to take it in his stride and spends the time between his two sets wandering around the venue chatting to the punters and generally adding to the feel good atmosphere of the day.

This year Gedge has singled out 1994's Watusi as his album of choice, probably not the first pick of many of the fans in attendance, though a pretty solid piece of work and one which is obviously close to the heart of the man himself. That's for the end of the night, though, and proceedings are kicked off on the small stage in the bar area by Ukaladeez as the punters begin to wander down through the large gathering of mods who are celebrating an anniversary in the café area close to the pier. Nicely worked so that bands are playing in the bar while the main venue is being set up and vice versa, there's non-stop music on offer, though we decide to pace ourselves a little and settle down to wait for Cinerama who open on the main stage at 3.40, playing the odd numbered tracks from their This Is Cinerama album. It's gentle stuff, nicely performed, if not altogether to our taste, but the warmth and whisky have a mellowing effect and this turns out to be no bad start to a glorious summer's day by the seaside.

We decide to nip across the road for some lunch before heading back to the main stage for Yorkshire's Sky Larkin, who seem to have had a difficult journey down the motorway, but don't let it show as they play out a sparkling set. There's no new record on offer from the Leeds trio whose rather good third album Motto saw light of day last autumn, so most of the songs are familiar and the band pack enough live punch to stir us out of our postprandial lethargy. There's something about Sky Larkin that always conjures up images of an English Blake Babies; perhaps the wordiness of the songs, cleverly put together, or maybe a tone of voice or the slightly jagged ebb and flow of the songs, but though comparisons are often invidious, this one is nothing but a huge compliment.

Sky Larkin
The mood really is relaxed; the audience (as expected) are not in the first flush of youth so tension is non-existent, and we decide that it would be fitting in the grand scheme of things if we headed for the beach to lie in the sun for a while. On the way (across the road) we bump into the Inca Babies' Rob Haynes who is down on Membranes duty. He has just emerged after some eight hours in a van trekking down from Manchester and it is noticeable that most of the acts are from the north and will have spent the best part of their weekend cooped up in vans just to get their thirty minutes on stage. Of course, the advantage is they get to perform in front of audiences they seldom reach and it is certainly good for the punters to get to see something different from the usual collection of local bands.

The Membranes are one of the main reasons we chose to attend on the Saturday as they remained one of the very few bands we had not yet seen, despite having invested in their records. They don't disappoint. They really are one of the bands for which the word 'alternative' was coined as they defy definition. Far too musical to be labelled 'punk', far too leftfield to be rock and roll, they exist in an arena of their own making, but it's far from an isolated one as they go down a storm and leave the punters demanding more. It's an impressive set, mostly of recent songs, but with a handful of oldies thrown in, including one of the band's oldest songs the legendary 1984 single 'Spike Milligan's Tape Recorder'.

They are by far the most active band of the day on stage; singer John Robb a livewire performer with plenty of chat. It used to be an annoying American habit to rattle on between songs, but perhaps it is the mellow atmosphere of the day that lends itself to extended conversation. The relative age of the audience is discussed, as well as where they are from, and Robb bemoans his fate as a thwarted pop star. "We thought if we played loud enough in 1979 then everybody would listen. We were wrong," he complains. It would have been fascinating (if perhaps a little messy) if the band had gone supernova, but The Membranes remain indie legends and it is great to see that they still provide invigorating, inventive sets and still fail hopelessly to bow to convention. A nice touch is the brief snippet of The Wedding Present's  'Kennedy' they manage to slip in to the middle of their set.

The Membranes
Next up on the main stage are the main act themselves and the venue really begins to fill up. There's a lot of love for the Weddoes across this land and we fully understand it. They are a band who touched people's hearts and George Best and Bizarro are still talked about in reverential tones. It is Watusi that is being featured tonight, but the venue is still buzzing and it's clear there are more than a few racing pulses and moist eyes in the house.

It's the humanity that's the key; Gedge writes songs about life and love and drapes his heart and soul over them. That's why songs such as 'Click Click' are so bloody affecting and why most of the audience sing along to every word. There's gentle swaying to the slower numbers but throw in some chopping guitars and it seems nobody can keep still. The schizophrenic 'So Long, Baby', the charging 'Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah' and the dynamic 'Shake It' get the house moving and, on the album's completion, three extra tracks see the building erupt – 'Nobody’s Twisting Your Arm', 'Brassneck' and 'Flying Saucer' are a perfect way to end what has been a very pleasant day.

At The Edge Of The Sea is a great event and long may it continue. It can be as intense or as relaxed as you want it to be; we chose the latter route but there's two solid days of non-stop music if you want to immerse yourself completely. Hats off to Mr Gedge for all the hard work and we look forward to an equally diverse offering next year. Respect.

Words: Adam, Pics: Gary

The Wedding Present at the Concorde 2
Camden Crawl 20th June 2014
Pete Fij & Terry Bickers live at the Persia Room, Worthing
Reviews April-June 2014
Hookworms live at the Haunt, Brighton
Reviews July to September 2014
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