June 21, 2024

Wire – speedy and intense espresso shot of a rare brew

Live at The Brudenell Social Club 31stJanuary 2020

Warning: You won’t be getting a blow by blow account of what albums had songs featured. Wire aren’t that sort of band and they have a huge back catalogue. With more than forty years as a band and seventeen albums, they would pain themselves if they rehashed those monumentally influential first few albums gig after gig. No, they prefer to forge forward, favouring their more recent material with just the occasional deep-dive into the past. Instead, let’s focus on the sounds and shape of the gig.

Wire are extraordinarily disciplined in texture and instruments are distinct, making listening immersive and exciting, whether or not you know the songs. The sound remains definitively post-punk but the palette has deepened and range widened over time. The three encore songs see lead guitar used entirely as texture, with an Ebow-type device creating a slab of tone. Prior to that Matthew Simms has picked out spikey patterns on his left-handed guitar with a look of concentration. I enjoy the sound coming direct from his miked up tiny combi amp behind my ear. Colin Newman is the visual focus. His rather funky-looking pastel-coloured guitar moves with him as he screws down into most of the lead vocals. Like everyone bar Robert Grey on drums, he has a million knobs and switches on the floor and sounds are always being turned on or off and manipulated as post-punk shifts towards artful progressive rock.

The songs get more muscular as the set progresses and Oklahoma is a bruiser, with bassist Graham Lewis thrusting into the lyrics. Immediately after, the nerds go wild as the very rare Outdoor Miner is played. Earlier, someone has shouted for ‘12XU’, only for Colin to take it as a joke and say ‘no way’. I guess if anyone wants more than a couple of oldies, they can visit the merch table for one of the many re-packaged deluxe editions of the holy trinity of albums.

It is a full venue and an accomplished yet raw sound that shoots past, with 18 songs in 75 minutes. They don’t hang about…..

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