Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Wire Leeds

A Review of WIRE at Leeds Brudenell Social Club 19th of September 2013

One of the chaps requested I send a welcome dispatch. The contents of the message state area and band: Wire in Leeds. Twenty-three pounds twenty got me there and back again. Doors were quite late opening and support band worth hearing. They call themselves Xaviers; Japan / London prog-punk noise.The first foray in their entirely instrumental set had enough "dugga" and relentless bass drum to make it seems unnecessary for Wire to play "Drill" and when they did later it sounded like Colin Newman had incorporated a little of Xaviers' androgynous guitar user's style into the opening. The most powerful part of their set was when the keyboard user left his machine running and doubled up on drums. "Imagine them with Damo Suzuki!" said my friend afterwards, and they would indeed make an interesting trio to back the old voice of Can. Wire began "Marooned" the slowest song of the night. Did they resurrect this old 'Chairs Missing' song intentionally to tie in with the climate change doom theme of former guitar user Bruce Gilbert's latest real work of culture, "Diluvial" on Touch, or was that just lyrical synchronicity? An extreme change of pace as they dove straight into the hyper-streamlined "Drill," to which I stretched in reply to one of its relentless questions. If this is not an exercise could it be an ally in exile? Now retitled "Doubles & Trebles" this song always told a much more interesting story than its 'Send' era mutation "I Don't Understand." The mood lightened considerably when Graham Lewis re-invented his second wheel again, although unlike their Preston perfomance he didn't need glasses to do so. The first surprise of the night was that they had doubled (but not yet trebled) the new men with the introduction of a bald keyboard user, Tim Lewis, disappointingly attired in a leather coat rather than a newspaper hat. His cultural work was atmospheric and unobtrusive until he proved himself a valuable addition by making that choppy little song about a suicide "(Another) The Letter" the most intense and authentic to 1978 rendition that I've yet heard. "Adore Your Island" used to be the spare one, but obviously can no longer be as Wire have put it to good use as a short respite for Robert Grey's well worn hi-hat, as he bashes dramatic alternate cymbal splashes. They played the most storming "Smash" I've heard, colliding with "Stealth of a Stork" and a crowd pleasing Top of the Pop Arts 1979 "Map Reference 41N 93W" which as far as I know has not been renamed "Canal Cannard" or "An Unrulable Expanse" as that would just confuse the chart riggers. The second new development was the doubling of new songs from the Preston duo to a quartet. The oldest new song "Blogging" is a jolly ditty concerning the internet which might be a bit too plinky-plonky for former guitar user Bruce Gilbert's taste, but he wasn't there upstaging Wire so it didn't matter. A quick scan of his replacement Matthew Simms' setlist revealed others to be currently titled "Swallow" and "Nocturnal Koreans" but the best of the batch was "Harpooned," an ominous chugging beast that closed the main set and could conceivably evolve into a more monstrous form."As We Go" became for one night only 'as we go (to the bar)' at least in my case and "Love Bends" was another song buzzing in these ears in its finest form. One of Bruce Gilbert's criticisms of Colin Newman in Wilson Neate's "Read and Burn" book was that Colin favours plinky-plonky sounds and "Love Bends" employs the most plinky-plonky guitar riff in Wire history. The irony is that since Matt plays it, one can reasonably assume that Bruce probably played it originally in its former throwaway incarnation as "Piano Tuner." It occurred to me that night that "Please Take" could apply to Rupert Murdoch quite aptly, at least that was before I joked to one of the chaps by changing the words to, "Move you're blocking Matthew." This is what a very short person might have said to me as I listened from between the two guitar amps. The big surprise came with the first encore, for which Graham Lewis donned shades and read his European tour diary text from a big music stand. "23 Years Too Late" surely would have not been possible without Tim Lewis and was long enough to replace longtime set climax "Pink Flag." For perhaps the first time in a decade no songs from the first album now remained in the set and tellingly they aren't selling 'Pink Flag' at the art objects table alongside the two subsequent Harvest albums. The second encore sent the "Comet" hurtling at great speed with a violent stop that caught a fair number of premature clappers out. After the most violent "Spent" I've heard from the post-Gilbert Wire, wherein Matt Simms rubbed the neck of his guitar on its amp Sonic Youth style, Tim Lewis switched to guitar and Colin swapped for a baby guitar. Disappointingly they did not do the predictable and kick into "Pink Flag" but instead played out a pedal worrying freenoise coda. Perhaps they should call it "A Sterile Ice Cream" van in memory of Bruce's opinion of the sound of their 'A Bell is a Cup Until it is Struck' album. A quick dash to Leeds station found me on a train sounding like an imaginary Bruce Gilbert / Chris Watson installation. On returning home I listened to 'Science in Action' on the World Service where there was a report on wire microbes that turn sewage into electricity. Then it was time to go to bed.W

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