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Wire / PINS – The Lemon Tree, Aberdeen – Sunday 26th April 2015

Work commitments meant that instead of going to a (presumably) sold out King Tut’s in Glasgow last night I made the trip north to catch Wire at the Lemon Tree in Aberdeen on Sunday instead.

Whilst doubtless a more comfortable experience (the Lemon Tree was nowhere near full), it did mean that there was probably a higher percentage of the curious rather than the committed. As a consequence the crowd reaction was often muted lessening the show’s impact to some extent.

Nevertheless to see Wire in any environment remains a fascinating experience and Sunday was no exception.

It’s almost such a truism that it’s hardly worth reporting but Wire remain determinedly in forward gear – so much so that the majority of the set was drawn from the new self titled LP.

One of the joys of seeing Wire live is that the back catalogue is always unpredictable. Other than ‘Drill’ there was none of the ‘hits’ but previous LPs visited included not just 70s classics ‘154’ and ‘Chairs Missing’ but also the less heralded ‘A Bell Is a Cup Until It’s Struck’ and ‘Object 47’.

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The sound was … untamed probably sums it up and this had both positive and negative effects.

On the plus side, most pleasing for me was that the show offered me a way into some of the tracks on the new album I’d so far struggled to summon up great enthusiasm for. If I’d previously found ‘Shifting’ the most disappointing track on the record, it was much easier from the live rendition to understand why the song was given such a prominent place on ‘Wire’.

In part I think that was down to the fact that the new songs, which with one exception are restrained on record, were given a real shot of adrenalin. ‘Split Your Ends’ in particular sounded very punky. But the tune perhaps to gain the most from the live setting was an extended ‘Sleepwalking’ which was nothing less than apocalyptic.

That one aforementioned exception on the album is, of course, LP closer ‘Harpooned’ which stands out as the heaviest track on the record – by far. Incredibly even live it managed to maintain that edge despite the upping of the ante elsewhere. Enthrallingly brutal, it was probably worth the price of admission alone.

On the down side the sound did occasionally mean that the vocals were buried in amongst the noise and that alone probably prevented the show from being completely spectacular.

It also wasn’t a show entirely without a hitch as ‘Drill’, inadvertently turned out to be a fairly unique rendition – at one point it looked like it might be completely Lewis free as Graham’s bass cut out just before the song started. As his priority was to get it working again, I think the tune was completely ‘Dugga’ free -is that a first?

That incident highlighted the band’s seemingly minimal interaction on stage as Colin seemed completely obviously to the bass player’s difficulties. Later in the set he also had to be alerted to the absence of Robert, who had briefly left the stage, just as the singer was preparing to launch into the closing ‘Harpooned’.

Yet there were also some unexpected interactions too. At the close of ‘Shifting’ Colin turned to Rob and gave him an exaggerated thumbs up. Then, during the intro to ‘Blessed State’ Colin and Matt seemed to find something particularly amusing. In-jokes perhaps?

Ultimately one test of a live gig is whether it makes you want to listen to its parent LP more or not. And Aberdeen did that quite empathically. With a bit of luck we might even get a second tour later in the year. Edinburgh would be nice.

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Support for the show were PINS, who were somewhat less avant garde than recent Wire supports such as Xaviers and Talk Negative. In fact if you’d told me that I’d ever see a band support Wire and incorporate a Cyndi Lauper chorus into one of their own tunes, I guess I would have been somewhat sceptical.

But that’s exactly what PINS did. Often ploughing a furrow not dissimilar to the likes of Honeyblood, they also had tune which rather unexpectedly mined 80s electro pop.

They were pretty good and I’m definitely minded to investigate the album. But having said that, a little more sonic diversity would have made them even better.

Wire setlist

1. Blogging  2.Joust & Jostle  3. Silk Skin Paws 4.Drill  5. Mekon Headman  6. Building Bridges  7. High  8. In Manchester  9. Sleepwalking  10. Shifting  11. Stealth of a Stork  12. Split Your Ends 13. Octopus 14. Blessed State  15. Swallow 16. Harpooned

Encore – 17. Brazil 18 Adore Your Island 19. Used To

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