Stephen Bray 00/00/0000
Like most kids weaned on the heady days of Britpop, I had long been aware of Wire's influence on my musical idols of the day. Blur were supposed to sound like them, Menswe@r were supposed to have pretty much ripped them off, and Elastica had entirely ripped them off (so much so, in fact, that they were sued for it).
It took a few years before I finally heard the band themselves, though. In those days, having no internet for sampling the music of mysterious bands such as this, and loathe to part with limited teenage finances on albums of which we knew nothing, I mentally placed 'Wire' to the back of the 'to be investigated queue'.
Eventually, the time came when the investigation duly happened. And, finally, at the Academy, I got to see them play live.
When I first started seeing bands play live, I found myself more interested in what song would be played next, rather than what song was currently playing. It took me a while to realise that this was simply because I was watching sub-par bands and, finally, I began to see bands that truly captivated me. Bands that dragged me into their music, with both my body and my soul captivated by the sounds, lyrics and assorted sensory delights, bands that had me swaying around in crowds feeling entirely under the influence of some wonderful drug.
Not all bands were like that, however. And I've seen very few in recent years who have been like that. But Wire were one of those.
I can't pretend to have known more than a handful of songs in the set (but then again, there were some yet to be released ones), but seeing Wire live absolutely blew my mind. The sheer passion of the music made me want to sway, to dance, to punch the air. The effect was as severe as tinfoil on fillings, as a tiny clawed creature scratching away at my bones, as a hearty dose of absinthe slowly filtering through my body…
Wire got into my blood in a way that the very finest Spiritualized gigs did, but they had the energy, vitality and wonderful trebly-gratingness of the shouty punk of the Thermals, or the shoegazing power of the Jesus and Mary Chain, or the primal addictive beat of the Fall at their best. But even this doesn't really do justice to Wire's performing power. Simplistic and rigid drum beats drive the sound that the two guitars then stamp their identity all over. I think the key to the wonder of Wire is in the guitar playing. Incisive, inventive, invasive and incomparable it really did cut right through me and take me to a whole new level of gig enjoyment.
I heard Blur, I heard the Jesus and Mary Chain, I heard Elastica, Menswe@r and all of my fallen idols. I heard Mission of Burma, I heard The Fall. So many bands that I held (and hold) dear seemed to take some reference point from this lot. I feel privileged to have seen them. And in such good health, too!
And that, dear reader, is the best that I can come to describing it, really. For this gig, words simply could not do it justice (although I have tried!). All I can do is urge you to see them. They're touring Europe at the moment, but there's talk of a UK tour later this year. You won't regret it.