Wire / Talk Normal – Liquid Room, Edinburgh – 17th November 2011

I’m old enough so I should know (them) better but I’ll ‘fess up right up front. I don’t actually know that much about Wire‘s extensive back catalogue (I’ve only got 4 LPs in total including this year’s ‘Red Barked Tree’). So this show represented something of a leap of faith for me. But having really enjoyed ‘Red Barked Tree’ as an eMusic purchase it felt right to go and see the band live.

First up though, were Talk Normal,  who I knew nothing about before the show. Turns out they are 2 (very) noisy American lasses who at various points in the set reminded me of ‘Pink Flag’ era Wire, riot grrl, Sonic Youth and Big Black. However, most of all, they brought to memory early 90’s Dischord band Fire Party.

There’s a fair amount of dissonance going on but, like Fire Party, they would pull their songs into focus with some simple guitar riffs. I’ve no idea what they played but might have a better idea after listening to their LP purchased on the night, and having caught up with the rest of their back catalogue through the aforementioned emusic.

I’m left thinking at the end of their set thatThurston Moore would undoubtedly approve, before I noticed that they had actually done a split single with the great man himself!

And so to the headliners who, initially at least, sounded quite refined compared to their bratty support. It is, however, only the calm before the storm. The longer the set goes, the more brutal the music becomes. And, believe me, some of ‘Red Barked Tree’ is just as brutal as the earlier material.

Great though the main set was, the encores were simply astounding. Don’t know what they played in the first one, a longer tune and a shorter one, but it was brilliant but bettered by the final double strike of ‘Adapt’ and an absolutely barbaric ‘Pink Flag’.

I wish I had time to do this sort of thing more often – in the end I reckon I knew less than half of the set, and recognised a couple of other things. But in the end familiarity wasn’t a handicap. One of the best shows of the year.

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