Weddings, Parties, Anything
Weddings, Parties, Anything have proudly worn a guernsey for their home city for almost 30 years. Their energetic live shows and passion for Melbourne's suburban and cultural identity have engaged two generations of patriotic Victorians. After playing a handful of shows since their 1998 break-up, it's appropriate that the Weddoes' semi-retirement has involved a yearly Grand Final Eve Spectacular since 2009. Singer/guitarist and St Kilda fanatic Mick Thomas says the event offers them a unique opportunity.
"We kind of wanted a one-night thing," Mick explains. "When we were putting it together the first year, it occurred to us that we'd never played any big shows in Melbourne, even though it was our strongest city. We always preferred to do 10 shows at a little joint. It's one of the attractive things about getting back in the band once a year - we get to walk on a big stage and play at a mind-boggling volume. It's like wearing someone's coat for a night," he says.
Mick has publicly admitted to being blown away by the reaction to some of WPA's post break-up reunion shows. These included performances at the 2005 Community Cup and 2006 Queenscliff Music Festival, as well as a record-breaking five sold-out shows at the Corner Hotel in 2008. While he appreciated the ongoing support, Mick still took some convincing to reunite the band in a more permanent capacity.
"It certainly gives you confidence. There'd be nothing worse than doing it and no one coming," he laughs. "Jason Evans, who used to run the Community Cup, used to always ask why we didn't get back together. I used to laugh it off, but one day I saw him and it was a really nice day and he suggested it again, and I said 'yeah' on the spur of the moment. I gave the other guys a call and they were keen, so it was pretty easy to do."
Mick offers an interesting insight into why he prefers these shows to regular touring. "We've done special things each year," he says. "What you realise when you go to put it together - and it's almost the key to why the band finished up in some ways - is that there's this massive breadth of material, six or seven albums, but there's around 20 songs that you have to play. That didn't leave much room to move.
"I really like just doing a couple of shows (they're also doing a gig in Fremantle). In Ricky Nelson's song Garden Party, he sang 'if memories were all I sang, I'd rather drive a truck'. That's pretty much how I feel. I love coming out and doing this every now and then, and it's a real great celebration of where we got to," he says.
It is an annual spectacular, but how long does Mick think the tradition will last?
"We've discussed doing it bi-annually, but there's no real scale on it. The joke we keep making is that we're gonna keep doing it until everyone can get pensioner's insurance! There are three of us to go."
Weddings, Parties, Anything continue their storied Grand Final Eve tradition at The Palace on Friday September 30.
BY CAMERON SUNDBLOM