#1012: 1986, Wire, Drill

by George_East on April 15, 2015

Last night I finally got to see art punk legends Wire on the first night of their five night residency at the Lexington to mark the release of their new eponymous album.  They are a band I’ve had on my wish list for decades.  It was a rare chance to see a legendary artist in a tiny venue.  It was a superb gig.  If there are 60 somethings out there with more energy and intensity I’d like to meet them.

Some time ago on these pages we had a bit of a thing about artists who had released back to back masterpieces as their first two albums.   Wire are that really extraordinary thing, a band whose first three albums fall into that category: Pink Flag, Chairs Missing and 154.  The more you listen to those albums the more influential you realise Wire were – with their repetitive  minimalist bass lines, scratchy guitars and art school aesthetics.

Yet they are also a band who famously don’t play anything from those albums live.   The earliest track they do play is this extraordinary track from their come back EP (after 5 years doing solo and other collaborative projects), Snake Drill.  It was a highlight of the set last night – a song so stripped back it sounds almost as if it is one note being repeated for 5 minutes.

The band still look great too – Colin Newman looks like the Marxist sociology professor from your local Poly back in the day, Graham Lewis the too cool for school black clad artist and drummer Robert Grey (Robert Gotobed as he was styled on those early albums) looks like a more gymmed up, J K Simmons.  Bruce Gilbert left a good while ago but the band do sound diminished for it (for a while Wire called themselves Wir, as a result of being reduced to a three piece – a something that always makes me smile).

Having now seen them live, I am even more convinced that they are one of the most influential artists these shores have produced with everyone from Joy Division to techno and industrial dance acts drawing on their uniquely intense sound.  An encore consisting of 3 songs, the first of which was about 45 seconds long ended the evening and I left wishing I was seeing the other 4 nights in the residency too.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Dan Stasi April 16, 2015 at 5:40 pm

Its Chairs Missing not Empty Chairs.

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George_East April 17, 2015 at 9:03 am

Thanks and indeed it is. My mind was obviously on the prospects of last night’s debate when I wrote the piece. Now corrected.

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