They Were Better Live: Weddings Parties Anything Get Set To Hit The Stage Again!

They Were Better Live: Weddings Parties Anything Get Set To Hit The Stage Again!

mick thomas, wpa
Mick Thomas of Weddings Parties Anything at Byron Bay Blues & Roots Festival, 2008. Photo by Kristian Dowling/Getty Images.

They Were Better Live. It was the name of their classic 1998 live album for a reason: as great as they were in the studio, the band's fans were pretty unanimous that it was on stage, preferably in a heaving pub with the beer flowing freely, that Weddings Parties Anything were really in their element. And with the Weddoes included in the recent first announcement of artists for 2021's Bluesfest, those fans are salivating at the opportunity to experience their heroes live again, for the first time since their 2012 induction into The Age EG Hall of Fame in 2012.

One of the great Australian bands of the '80s and '90s, Wedding Parties Anything were the brainchild of Mick Thomas, who grew up around regional Victoria and moved from Geelong to Melbourne in the early '80s. Mick loved English and Australian folk music as well more rocking outfits like the Sports, Jo Jo Zep & The Falcons, Nick Lowe, the Clash and the Jam. WPA mixed all of Mick's favourites into a lyrical and rootsy rocking pub rock sound that shared some sensibilities with the Pogues and Billy Bragg but had few local peers, although Chris Bailey's Saints occasionally displayed the same Celtic influences and Paul Kelly & The Coloured Girls had a similar interest in Australiana. Indeed, as Stuart Coupe discusses in his new Paul Kelly biography, the Weddoes and Kelly's mob bonded for a while late in the decade. Before long, Mick's and the band were following Paul and the Coloured Girls up the Australian charts, and then overseas.

WPA released nine much-loved studio albums (including the fun Weddings Play Sports (and Falcons) mini-LP) and the rollicking live classic They Were Better Live before calling it a day in 1999. Since then Mick Thomas has released numerous other works and continued to tour; his current band is Mick Thomas' Roving Commission, and his latest album See You On The Other Side; A Postcard from April 2020 was written and recorded during Melbourne's first Coronavirus lockdown, and released in June. Mick has maintained a strong presence on the live scene, and with fellow Weddo Squeezebox Wally a regular by his side, his shows, which always contain several old Weddoes favourites along with his recent works, always connect.

Fans are in for a real treat next year at Bluesfest, with appearances promised by both Mick's Roving Commission and the Weddoes (featuring lynchpins Squeezebox Wally, former Coloured Girls/Messengers drummer Michael Barclay, former Huxton Creepers guitarist Paul Thomas and much-loved violinist Jen Anderson). ILYOS celebrates with some classic WPA footage, and the wonderful epic lockdown song "See You When I'm Looking At You" from Mick and the Roving Commission, with guest appearances with a load of old pals including Angie Hart from Frente, Nick Barker, Alannah Russack from the Hummingbirds and Ron S. Peno from Died Pretty. 

"Roaring Days"

Every day was a roaring day for the Weddoes. This early footage was filmed, unless I'm mistaken, at the band's fave Sydney venue in the early days, the Hopetoun Hotel in Surry Hills, the legendary corner pub that was also favoured by Paul Kelly & The Coloured Girls.

"Scorn of Women"

Another early classic, filmed at what was at the time the band's final gig, in Perth in 1999.

"Ticket In Tatts"

Great version of many a fan's live favourite – check out the crowd singing along throughout. Love seeing Mick shield his face – and Jen getting out of the way - each time he sings "I was ten cents short of a dollar", in anticipation of the inevitable shower of coins. 

"Away Away"

Rough sound but a good indication of the live energy generated by both band and audience. One of Mick Thomas' genuinely classic songs, captured live at one of the band's legendary AFL Grand Final Eve shows.

"Monday's Experts"

Cracking version of another Thomas classic, and the band in their element at the Queenscliff Music Festival.

"A Tale They Won't Believe"

Another one from Queenscliff. Not a pub, but yep that crowd is heaving!

Mick Thomas' Roving Commission | "See When I'm Looking At You"

The epic 2020 lockdown single, written and recorded as a "chain song", with each guest writing and recording a verse in isolation to add on to what Mick did to get it started.

For the full live audio Weddoes experience, you can stream They Were Better Live: Live at the Central Club Christmas, 1998 on Spotify:

Listen to Weddings Parties Anything on Apple Music:

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