Art rock band Wire played a blinding new album at Heaven, in the arches under Charing Cross station. The last act in their Drill:London festival. Nic Howden was there.
Loathe to follow rock music’s hackneyed tracks, even Wire’s encore at Heaven was about reinvention. Joined by a 30-something piece Pink Flag Guitar Orchestra, all bearing axes, the evening culminated in a gloriously cacophonic 10 minute take on the title track from their 1977 debut LP.
Otherwise, the gig, a product of a four evening festival put together by the band and clued up rock/pop culture site/unabashed fans The Quietus, was a showcase for a fourth album proper since they reunited in 1999.
Change Becomes Us is 13 songs developed from 32-year-old sketches, drawn as Wire imploded. Painstakingly coloured and configured for the modern world, it made for a typically eclectic set, from Stealth Of A Stork, which is straight out of their 1977 psyche, to the synthesiser heavy confessional of B/W Silence, just about its polar opposite.
On stage, and in the studio, they’re a four piece again, augmented by keyboards. Guitarist Matt Simms was formerly inducted in 2012 as a replacement proper for Bruce Gilbert who left a couple of years into the reunion. Simms might be half the age of his bandmates, with four times as much hair, but he buys into the USPs and adds another energy to their considerable industry.
With its high stage and fantastic acoustics, the 800 capacity Heaven is a perfect place for a show of this nature and it’s full, despite the fact that Wire supported Toy at the Lexington the night before. There’s no blind allegiance on the floor either. People come to see them because they keep on kicking at the boundaries of the business and change becomes us, and because they’re a fantastic live band.
Frontman Colin Newman studiously marshalled proceedings, switching between three guitars, the majority metallic blue Eastwoods, and flicking through lyrics on an iPad clipped onto what must be the most contemporary music stand in the business. Bassist/lyricist and occasional singer Graham Lewis clearly enjoyed himself, bantering with the crowd between anchoring the songs, and drummer Robert Grey was his indispensible, metronomic self behind them.
“It’s like watching the end of a marathon,” Newman chuckled as the last elements of the Pink Flag Guitar Orchestra shuffled on stage after the album was done. “Are you ready? One, two, three…” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AZ0Cif1W_cM