Wire – Beat Generator Live!, Dundee – Sunday 5th November 2017
Wire’s first ever appearance in Dundee on Sunday was the first of two shows in Scotland on the Silver/Lead tour.
It was a varied setlist with a higher percentage of older tracks than on recent tours and only 7 songs drawn from the new record (only!). As ever though the older stuff wasn’t predictable with ‘Three Girl Rhumba’, along with ‘Used To’ one of only two songs drawn from the 70s trilogy. 1980s Wire was represented by three songs (including ‘Small Black Reptile’ from ‘Manscape’). There were also a couple of recorded rarities in the shape of ‘Underwater Experiences’ and ‘Art of Persistence’.
Whilst I’d been looking forward to both dates immensely, particularly seeing the band in the familiar surroundings of BGL, to be honest, this show was a bit of a mixed bag sound-wise. Never at any point in the set did I feel that it was completely under control, which rather lessened the overall impact. ‘Red Barked Trees’ in particular was a mess with the band initially seeming to be playing a different song from the one that Colin was singing. They weren’t but it was hard to tell.
In fact the level of Colin’s vocals seemed to be problematic throughout. For every song on which they came through clearly there was another one on which they were buried in the mix with an almost instrumental ‘Used To’ in the encore being the worst example.
Not that the band weren’t capable on occasion of rising above the sound. Both ‘Short Elevated Period’ and a mighty ‘Over Theirs’ to finish the main set showed what the band were capable of. And the ‘Silver/Lead’ material in general seemed to fare better sound-wise than the rest.
But all too often the songs got lost in the pummelling approach. Which left me a little puzzled if, as Colin suggested a few months ago, ‘Harpooned’ was becoming a millstone round their necks. Why then play half the set in that style?
Here’s hoping that Edinburgh tonight sounds better.
1. Ahead 2. Diamonds in Cups 3. An Alibi 4. This Time 5. Three Girl Rhumba 6. Art of Persistence 7. Brio 8. Underwater Experiences 9. Red Barked Trees 10. Small Black Reptile 11. Keep Exhaling 12. Split Your Ends 13. Playing Harp for the Fishes 14. Short Elevated Period 15. Over Theirs
16. Silver/Lead 17. Used To 18. Stealth of a Stork