Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Wedding Present and Earlimart at Troubadour

Friday night (September 19) there was a great show at the Troubadour with the English band, The Wedding Present, who started up over 20 years ago, but still sound as fresh as a newborn band. They were preceeded by a local band who are, to me, the very definition of of what the Silver Lake/Echo Park music scene is about.

Just entered the club as Earlimart began their first song, "God Loves You the Best", Aaron Epinoza's beautifully ironic lyric set to a slowly chugging melody. This song is one of the highlights of their new, great CD, Hymn and Her and when Ariana Murray adds her vocal, the song just washes out over the audience in waves. It's not a song I would expect them to open with, yet it turned out to be perfectly appropriate, as the whole set seemed to be geared to highlight the dual vocals that are this bands hallmark, which this song really shows off. And their vocals seemed perfectly balanced at this show. I've seen crowds swoon at their sound and that is pretty much what happened Friday.

We were right up front. In fact I was standing next to David Gadge, leader of The Wedding Present, who was swooning right along with the rest of us. Aaron guided us through samples from Earlimart's entire career and not one song was less than excellent. We got "The Hidden Track" from Treble and Tremble, "Song For" and "Face Down in the Wrong Town" from the new CD and some early pieces which were stunning. For the last song, we got "Happy Alone" which shows off Ariana's writing skills. They're currently joined on tour by Brian Thornell on drums. He is quite a remarkable musician in his own right with his own band Wrong Way Driver, but here he supports with terrific drum work.

For the last few years, I've been so moved by Aaron's, and now Ariana's, songs, and the way they deal with the human condition. Even at their most optimistic, there's a thread of melancholy underlying everything. They sing about good times, hard times, moving on, learning acceptance, even those times we humiliate ourselves. I've learned from them and I don't think there's a higher compliment than that.

Thematically, their music has always made me think of that brilliant Cat Stevens song "Trouble", whereas, musically, their sound often took me back to the sound of Fleetwood Mac, during the Danny Kirwan years. If you listen to the songs "Woman of 1000 Years" or "Sands of Time" from the 1971 album Future Games, you'll hear what I mean. It's a sound I always missed and Earlimart has filled that void. I often think of Christine McVie when I hear Ariana sing, the way she brings perfect harmony, balance and a sense of calm to the proceedings. (A kind reader, John Demetry, corrected me that Danny Kirwan, and not Bob Welch, was the force behind Fleetwood Mac's Future Games and Bare Trees. Bob Welch's influence begins with Penguin. Thanks, John)

When they finished the place packed in with rabid The Wedding Present groupies, who follow the band around from city to city in their red tee shirts. What's interesting is that these are not what you think of as everyday groupies. They all seem to be around the age of the band which I would place at early 40's, and they all had British accents (English, Scottish, and Irish) so these are well travelled fans!

David Gadge and his band, The Wedding Present, played a fantastic set of sure-fire, crowd pleasing rock and roll. Having only recently become acquainted with them, I only knew material off their newest CD, El Rey, but every song was a winner. They play and sing with such skill and enjoyment, it's hard to believe thay have such a past. Apparently, from what I've been told they began around 1987 and disbanded in the early to mid nineties, reforming as the band Cinerama for a period, then regrouping around 2002 as The Wedding Present again, the only constant being David. Whatever they've been doing, they've also been writing good music.

I was with people who've seen then many other times and they said it was one of the best set they've seen them play. David performs with such gusto and passion he looks like a kid up there. The whole band was right on the money and of the songs they played, I knew and enjoyed "I Lost the Monkey", "Boo Boo" and the gloriously titled, "The Thing I Like Best About Him is His Girlfriend" from the new CD. I'm so glad I went.

Got a chance to speak to Aaron afteward, and they're only in town briefly before going up the coast and into Canada with TWP. These guys have been touring a lot lately, but touring with a band like The Wedding Present will open them up to new audiences. Also caught up with my friend Dave Dupuis from Film School who is on tour with these bands doing sound. He said this upcoming European tour with Film School is his first time through Europe as a band, not as a sound man. They should be a big hit over there! He also introduced me to the Earlimart drummer Brian Thornell. Hi, also, to Michael Orendy, helping to set up, who is working on a new Fankel CD. I love the last one, Lullaby For the Passerby.

Also, the fabulous new blogger in town, Kevin Bronson was there, fresh from seeing Cold War Kids on the Kimmel Show, which I watched later and it was kind of fabulous.


John Demetry said...

This was interesting. I love The Wedding Present.

I also just wanted to correct your comparison of Earliment to "Bob Welch era" Fleetwood Mac. The era to which you refer would actually better be called the Danny Kirwan era, since he was spearheaded Bare Trees and Future Games. The "Bob Welch era", though he was in the band for those two albums, would be from Penguin to Heroes Are Hard To Find.

MG said...

It's David Gedge not "Gadge." Cheers.