Profile photo of Dr Volume Dr Volume / Nights Out7 Comments



Manchester Academy 3

Date: 29/04/2015

It’s no good shouting “Do Some Old” at a Wire gig . In spite of their ‘heritage’ status Wire have always refused to be a nostalgia act. It would be easy, and far more lucrative, for them to do what their peers like New Order, The Cure, Buzzcocks and so forth do, and play sets that lean heavily on their glory days or play classic albums in full…but Wire have never liked looking back. Even back in the 1970s they would promote their latest album by showcasing the songs that would make up the next one.

They’ve got a new, eponymous, LP out and true to form they pretty much play every track from it. Fortunately, Wire have been at this long enough that most people know what to expect and nobody is shouting for 12XU or I Am The Fly. It helps that the new LP is marvellous. The record showcases, on the whole, the more dreamy, poppy side of Wire but live these songs get amped up to another level. The sound is very loud and powerful but also crystal clear so even if the material isn’t familiar it is delivered with maximum impact. ‘Octopus’ is a highlight that could easily replace any track on their first 3 LPs, and songs like ‘In Manchester’ and ‘Joust & Jostle’ are great examples of Wire’s skewed but naggingly catchy take on guitar pop. When old songs do come, they’re nice surprises. Silk Skin Paws from ‘A Bell is A Cup’ is dropped in early on – a hit that never was, Graham Lewis takes the lead for a spine-tingling ‘Blessed State’ (from 154) and for the encore the very seldom played ‘Used To’ (from Chairs Missing) is a suitably moody end. I’ve seen a lot of Wire gigs and this wass one of the best. The band are on superb form, new-ish member Matt (not born when Wire were in their first phase) looks right at home with the old boys providing layers of FX-pedal driven texture and Robert Grey on drums is the absolute heart of Wire…I find myself watching him more than anyone else, he cues in every song..eyes tightly shut, completely locked in and not a cymbal splash or tom roll out of place…it’s Rob’s gig really.

The audience:

A near capacity crowd, mixture of seasoned Wire fans, local musicians like John Robb, Lonelady and a Dutch Uncle or two, and lots of quite young people which suggests Wire’s forward momentum is paying off.

It made me think..

The refusal to rely on ‘oldies’ works. The new record, and the gig sounds like a new band…a really good one. It’s a brave move, and it takes enormous confidence in your new music to pull it off but for Wire there really is no alternative. There is a moment during the monumental ‘Harpooned’ where the volume reaches My Bloody Valentine/Swans levels and Colin’s vocals soar over the top and the whole room seems locked into Wire world – you are left in no doubt that ‘they mean it maaaan’.


7 Comments on “Wire”

  1. Profile photo of Baron Harkonnen
    Baron Harkonnen

    Good review Doc, but the trouble with me is I don`t think I can recall a single Wire track. That is no fault of the band who must be very gifted and talented. I think going off your review I should investigate.

  2. Profile photo of Dr Volume
    Dr Volume

    Thanks Baron, they’re sometimes referred to as the most famous band nobody has heard of.
    Most of their catalogue is on Spotify etc, I’d start with 154 or Chairs Missing and see how you get on with those.

  3. Profile photo of Cookieboy

    I just realised something strange. I was given my first Wire cd about 25 years ago and I now have dozens of their tracks on my ipod, including a cover version of Fragile by Evan Dando so I am quite familiar with the band but just now is the first time I have ever seen a photo of them.

  4. Profile photo of anton

    Agreed. Saw them (again) at the Fleece in Bristol on Thursday. Last night of the tour. “In your face” as ever. Sometimes the volume hides the surprising sweet melody. Madman’s honey? I was sorry to have missed some of the support band PINS who lived up to their name – sharp and shiny. They came back on stage for Wire’s encore and joined in a jam-up of “Drill”…..this is not an exercise!

    PS thinking about the Boys of the Old Brigade – a few days earlier I saw the Monochrome Set (again) at the Thunderbolt. TMS share some of the same Hornsey DNA as Wire (check out Pete Frame’s “The Art School Dance Goes On Forever” family tree). Another band who very much still have IT. And getting better. Aren’t we all? :)

  5. Profile photo of H.P. Saucecraft
    H.P. Saucecraft

    This photograph clearly shews four key stages in male coiffure. The two gents in the middle should swap positions, then we’d have, from left:

    1 Glorious Abundance. The Big Jessie Years (for me, about ’72)
    2 Still Good In The Back. The Years Of Delusion.
    3 Ha Ha Grandad Fuck Off You Bald Git. The Years Of Shame (for me, contemporary)
    4 I Like Hats, Me. The Years Of Denial.

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