March 21, 2017

By Nic Howden

Art of persistence

‘Gifts of the west winds, dark and deep, in secret sunset, places creep’, Wire start their 2017 concert campaign, at Reading’s Sub89, with Boiling Boy from 1988’s A Bell Is A Cup.

While the media, in all its disparate forms, won’t stop salivating about punk rock and asking ageing participants the same, hackneyed questions, Wire’s cursory nod to the past comes in the shape of a new LP. Silver/Lead is released on March 31, exactly 40-years from the band’s first gig as a four piece.

A third full album since 2013, this is Wire’s most prolific period since the hallowed Harvest years, 1977 to 1979, and their performance reflects that restless creativity. A product of the three principal players’ tangential tastes, and second guitarist Matt Simms’ touch, Wire don’t do predictable. As a result, their gigs are true ‘experiences’, now as they were then.

Nearly half the set is drawn from the tight, scratchy, psychedelic Silver/Lead and a chunk of the rest from the relatively recent past; twisted and shaped to fit. Frontman Colin Newman flips through his suspended iPad at the beginning of each song as summarily as drummer Robert Grey counts them in, two beats on the air then clicking the sticks together.

There are winsome surprises of course and beyond the odd ‘thank you’ from Newman and ‘That’s it!’ from bassman/lyricist Graham Lewis at the end of the set, it’s 90 minutes of the band’s beguiling, ever evolving musical mix, uninterrupted.

A warm-up, albeit for an apparently ever ‘at temperature’ live act, the 600-capacity Sub89 show came two weeks ahead of a tour that will take the band’s boutique festival model, Drill, to both sides of the Atlantic, marking ‘40 years of not looking back’, alongside a number of club dates. An MJR Group venue, it’s an intimate space with great sightlines, great sound and, clearly, a great booker. ‘Lock up your hats, lock up your hats…’

Wire play:

Mar 28: Crescent Ballroom, Phoenix, USA

Mar 29: Casbah, San Diego, USA

Mar 30: DRILL : LA, Echo / Echoplex, Los Angeles, USA

Mar 31: DRILL : LA, Echo / Echoplex, Los Angeles, USA

Apr 01: DRILL : LA, Echo / Echoplex, Los Angeles, USA

Apr 03: Slims, San Francisco, USA

Apr 05: Dantes, Portlando, USA

Apr 07: Imperial Theatre, Vancouver, Canada

Apr 08: Crocodile, Seattle, USA

Apr 21: DRILL : LEEDS, Brudenell Social Club, Leeds, UK

Apr 22: DRILL : LEEDS, Brudenell Social Club, Leeds, UK

Apr 23: DRILL : LEEDS, Brudenell Social Club, Leeds, UK

May 04: The Garage (night 1) , London, UK

May 05: The Garage (night 2) , London, UK

May 07: DRILL : BERLIN ,Volksbühne, Berlin, Germany

May 09: Loppen, Copenhagen, Denmark

May 11: De Helling, Utrecht, Netherlands

May 12: La Maroquinerie, Paris, France

May 13: DRILL : BXL ,AB Club, Brussels, Belgium

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