Back in 1980, Wire’s concerts involved the band avoiding their hits entirely, and instead enagaging in a sort of dada influenced art performance. The results were recorded and released as the album Document and Eyewitness, heckles and all. Although there is little chance of Wire pulling a similar trick in the Academy’s smaller room tonight, one appraoches their gig expecting the unexpected. They’ve never been a band to rest on their laurels. Instead they’ve lurched from style to style, confounded their audiences, suddenly taken an extended hiatus or two, shed members and have seemed happiest in chaos. Tonight they play to a packed room which nevertheless can’t house more than about 120 people.
It is a privilege to get so close to such a, well, excuse the phrase, “legendary” band in such an intimate venue. Seriously, among all of Wire’s peers and contemporaries, no-one is producing work right now that is as prescient and salient. The spanking brand new ‘Please Take’, is dedicated to the IMF, and introduces its swooning melody to the lyric “fuck off out of my face”. It sounds not unlike Kidney Bingos, which also gets an airing tonight and sounds as splendid now as it did in 1988. Only a curmugeon could fail to be delighted by Wire’s continuing canny way with a tune.
Wire have an incredibly strong back catalogue which they seem to not give much of a monkey’s about. So much so that a tribute band called Pink Flag formed for the sole purpose of playing Wire’s debut album live, because Wire wouldn’t. The title track to that album does feature in tonight’s set but many obvious Wire classics are missing; no ‘Outdoor Miner’, no ‘Three Girl Rhumba’, no ’12XU’, and the only ‘Eardrum Buzz’ in the room results from the screeching feedback from Colin Newman’s guitar. Amazingly, none of this amounts to being A Bad Thing, rather it underlines what a dynamic, forward looking group Wire are. As they hurtle through tracks from their recent album Red Barked Tree their fans are enthralled, and so they should be.
Photos: Alan Moore.
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