As I enter the packed room I am immediately confronted by Graham Duff who I know has done many things in his career but is best remembered by me at least for his work on the wonderful TV programme ‘Ideal’. He reads a few extracts from his book re his encounters with many musical icons and comics such as Mark E Smith and Vic Reeves and tells some pretty cheesy jokes which meet with both laughter and groans.
This is no hard sell on his book and he clearly has a great lover of music and banter and has the occasional dig at the crowd. He counters comments with the quick wit you would expect which all add up to good natured banter and leaves the stage with a final joke and a plug for a signed copy of his book.
As soon as the comic encounter is over we hear the tuning up of the band who are here to showcase their great new album’ Mind Hive’ to those lucky enough to be at this sold out show.
The show has a great mixed set beginning with ‘The Offer’ from 1989 with it’s wonderful quite opening. Despite their punk beginnings Wire continually move with the times and re-invent at every possible opportunity, their back catalogue is impressive and they continue to put out solid post punk records. Every record they produce moves forward and they keep experimenting, as can be seen on Mind Hive and they play ‘Be Like Them’ and ‘Cactused’ from the new album early in the set.
There are a few teething problems with main vocal mic early on but this is no way deters the assembled faithful who wait patiently for this to be rectified.
The band has powerful hypnotic sound built on the cool and aggressive bass lines and the flowing, simple and tight drum patterns that do just enough to keep the steady groove of the songs allowing for the extreme and complex and jangling guitar riffs to soar around the vocal lines and experimentation of the songs. There is an obvious heavy leaning on Mind Hive but this is definitely welcome, these new tracks once again see Wire elevating everything to another level. There is still plenty of room for their classic tracks such as ‘A Question Of Degree’, ‘Ex-Lion Tamer’ and ‘French Film Blurred’. In the encore we are treated to ‘Outdoor Miner’ which has only ever been played live 4 times.
This was a great night: with the band on form and still showing how they can push boundaries in their fourth decade. To me they were influenced as much by the likes of Roxy Music and more experimental bands as they were the early punk movement and have influenced many post punk and indie bands such as Magazine, Joy Division and Echo and the Bunnymen as well as acts such as Franz Ferdinand, The Futureheads and the like not forgetting the punk and post punk hardcore – Just take a look at those who have covered their songs.
As I left the venue a young guy who had been in the small room asked ‘who was playing in the big room it was rammed’. I told him ‘Wire’ to which he said ‘Sounded very strange to me’. Yes that’s Wire.
Be Like Them
A Question Of Degree
The Morning Bell
I Should Have Known Better
Patterns Of Behaviour
Primed & Ready
It’s A Boy
French Film Blurred
A Touching Display