Welcome to a positively bursting newsletter in which we survey the post-Royal Festival Hall fallout and deal with the gigs Wire have performed in the UK and USA since the RFH concert. We also have news of the last WMO release and more, so, eyes down...
The following review of the Dublin gig appeared on 'The Irish Times' web page:
'It's been 23 years since Wire released Pink Flag, their seminal debut album. At the height of the punk era Wire emerged as an alternative to the pogoing, gobbing culture of the time.
Reflecting their surroundings, the mood was industrial, remote, yet confrontational. It was this desire to capture the extremes of society that led Wire down a inventive path that saw them move from sophisticated punks to dance-pop merchants.
In the process, they often alienated fans by ignoring past gems in favour of their latest offering. It was their first visit to Ireland and, guess what, the fans were there in force to hear the old stuff.
And what did we get? We got a band who have settled on the idea that their early material is what folks want to hear and hear it they shall. They kicked the set off with the track Pink Flag and the crowd went wild. They rumbled through their back catalogue to their fans absolute delight.
The front of the crowd pogoed as if their lives depended on it. For their final encore a grinning Colin Newman strolled onstage sans guitar, stepped to the mike and said 'awlright, 'ere it is, and it goes 12XU!' And the band surged into the track that fans world-wide had been waiting for.
It's very likely that we may be the first to have heard the track live for decades. It was a real vindication for the fans and, while the wait may have been long for their Irish fans, it was truly worth waiting for.'
By Gerald Kelleher © The Irish Times
Mojo magazine's review concentrated on Robert's so-called '80's drum sound', whilst The Wire magazine appears to be the only review with any considered understanding of what was being presented that night.
John Roberts took some photos of the RFH gig.
A lot of people seemed confused as to what Graham actually said at the end of the Wire set. Graham supplied us with the definitive version:
'To paraphrase the great Shankly: you thoroughly deserved it!'
This refers to the thank you 'speech' given by bill on receiving the football manager of the year award on one of those many occasions. He said : 'Thank you, I thoroughly deserve it!' End of speech. Cool or what? As always it depends on where you're sitting.
Colin Newman wrote a piece for The Guardian newspaper in March:
Comebacks are Specious
Imagine the scene down at the 'Dunrockin' Home for the No Longer Crucial'. All the old punks are in the Dungobbin' wing with Wire assigned their own special cupboard under the stairs with a faded sign—'Dundeconstructin'—hanging precariously from the door.
A message arrives from their faithful retainer artybloke, 'Mr. Important from hugely massive global media (toy and music division) says the kids think you're really spiffing and there'll be a fair few bags of crisps in it for your you if you'll trot around the world for a couple of years and sell their back catalogue for them.'
'Yippee,' say the boys, 'what fun! We're gonna be famous again!!'.
Er, well, maybe not, but you can see how if you are serious about what you do and committed to contemporary art/music that anything that has the notion of 'comeback', 'reform', or 'retro' courts the above scenario.
So there we were at the Royal Festival Hall last Saturday. Rehearsals done, item designed, all the supporting cast that makes a show like this an event already history, 64 days and counting to the American 'tour'. Four blokes, blinking in the white light of their first structured and considered live forays for over 11 years. It feels like there are an ocean of possibilities. In moments of change there is a synergy between the past and the future as the moment expands to encompass them.
I don't know how far any of this goes beyond personal concerns but in my 'other job' of being an overworked and under-resourced independent label boss I am very aware that there is precious little music out there which avoids the 'mix and match' aesthetic as a short cut to the rewards of success or that isn't so genre specific as to be a virtual industry with an industry. So little which struggles to gain recognition through rugged individuality that the smallest pinprick of an actual idea can seem at times like a huge gesture.
So, how does it feel being in wire in 2000? It feels, in all humility, that we might just be able to make a small difference.
© The Guardian
Wire's performance at the All Tomorrow's Parties festival at Camber Sands holiday camp on 9th April looked as though it went well. For those who missed it the whole festival was webcast and is available at: http://www.alltomorrowsparties.co.uk/.
Wire in the USA
The following reports and interviews have been received/obtained:
2nd May—San Francisco—Great American Hall
'Whew! What an exhilarating show! The Great American Music Hall is a fantastic place to see any band, Wire in particular. In Colin's words, it's 'amazingly roccoco' and smaller than the second SF venue, The Fillmore.
I arrived partway into Matmos' set. They did some intriguing sonic exploration, and at times Graham and Bruce actually came out and listened to their set from the side of the stage, but the prospect of two guys hunched over laptops fiddling with mice and touchpads is one that I'm getting pretty bored with. Anyway they were politely short, and luckily their minimal set up broke down in minutes.
After a short while those familiar harmonics began to ring out of the speakers. A drifting wall of feedback that faded as three men came out onstage wielding guitars. The harmonic feedback softened and Robert Gotobed clicked off a count of four and this galvanising, tight, precise and powerful noise poured out of the monitors. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up and stayed there for some time.
While they were playing old material, there was no trace of nostalgia, reference or any of the things that you come to expect in today's ideally copied culture. It was just pure, beautiful noise that kept you completely in the moment.
Reports of them seeming uninvolved onstage make no sense after seeing the show. Colin was spry and played a fantastic spangly guitar, and his vocals were clear as a bell. Bruce did his usual 'history teacher in front of the class' pose, but his guitar sounded absolutely fantastic—brutally loud but completely precise. Graham was probably the most animated, doing backing and leads with aggression and his bass playing was muscular and melodic. Robert was the key link for me though; his metronome simplicity has to be among the most underrated time signatures in rock.
Although I have loved the past decade or so of technological advances and a lot of computer-influenced music in general, seeing everything stripped back to basics seems more modern now than anything. There's no fiddling around with monitors or hiding behind disembodied, appropriated sound, just the movement of muscles and fingers and the resulting howl. I can see why younger bands have been reluctant to follow them at festivals
They came back out and did 12XU and then a drawn out Drill that was absolutely fantastic. This has to be one of the most physical bands I've ever experienced. I had kept my expectations low, but I had an absolutely incredible time.'
firstname.lastname@example.org wrote about the same show:
'Wire at the music hall in San Francisco was fantastic. I thought of how tragically hip and boring crowds can be, but not at this show, it was great. I was lucky enough to be one person removed from directly in front of Colin centre stage and was blessed with a face to face most of the show. Getting that close to my favourite band of all time left me dumbstruck and dancing (albeit politely in my personal space). Wire were very animated, not appearing bored, even when playing the old stuff. There was a wonderful version of Lowdown, an incredible rendering of Mercy and a 'dancing spider on a sonic web' redo of 40 Versions. The encore of Drill was amazing in its length and breakneck speed guitar. Even the drunk next to me that felt the need to thrash about mindless at the mere mention of 12XU couldn't darken the show.'
Miles Goosens' verdict:
'Great American Music Hall: almost as intense as the Royal Festival Hall. Local pal Bradley Skaught and I spend the show directly in front of Graham, and Bradley turns around to me afterwards and says 'it doesn't get any better than this! Wow'. Advantage in Height sticks in my mind as the standout, but everything was spot-on. The show was completely sold out.'
3rd May—San Francisco—Filmore
Miles also saw this show:
'This being my third Wire show, I become the snobby connoisseur—the first part of the set seemed to lack a little something, but probably only by comparison to RFH and GAMH. However, the show picked up momentum as it went along, and turned into a rip-roaring humdinger for the last two-thirds. Highlights included a brutal Lowdown, a majestic Mercy, Colin's hilarious dance during 12XU, and a version of Drill that seemed to run at even a faster tempo and more blaring volume than the previous night's.
The house was only about 3/4 full, vs. The GAMH sell-out, but this crowd was even more into the show. Even after the house lights came up and the PA Music started playing, 3/4 of the audience stood there for another ten minutes, refusing to give up, stomping, cheering wildly. They didn't disperse until the crew started breaking down the set.
I feel privileged to have seen Wire at all on this tour, let alone the three times I've done it, and I can't imagine anyone being disappointed at all with their show. Colin, Graham, Bruce and Robert have lightning in a bottle again.'
4th May—Los Angeles—El Rey:
The LA Times gave this report:
'Wire keeps the punk groove going' by Steve Appleford
'Punk rock is old. It's an institution, its underground cachet long ago wiped clean by corporate raiding of its culture. But at its best the music remains vital, a sound that is hard, focused and undeniable. At the root of that sound is Wire.
The kind of influence the British quartet has had on underground music since the late 1970s could be measured by its audience Thursday at the El Rey Theater. The show wasn't a sell-out, but standing amid the crowd were a variety of local rockers, from Mike Watt to Hole guitarist Eric Erlandson to Jason Falkner, all there to see Wire's first US tour in a decade.
Like the band's charged, minimalist songs, the hour-long concert was fast-paced and ended abruptly. While Wire drew very little from its classic 1977 album Pink Flag, the songs it did play never lacked energy, suggesting that Wire remained creative right up until its final studio recordings in the early '90s.
Some of that later material stretched beyond the band's earliest chord patterns, but it was always tightly wound, both machine-like and evocative.
Fittingly, Wire's four members (led by singer-guitarist Colin Newman) all dressed in black T-shirts and performed without any semblance of 'show-biz' (elaborate lighting, special effects, etc.). There was hardly anything at all on stage, other than a commitment to a seminal punk groove that remains immune to the passing of time.'
© The Los Angeles Times
Bob Poss (no relation to Robert Poss) sent this in:
'I expected to enjoy Wire on Saturday more. I'm very much partial to the first three LPs and had been looking forward to the show for some time. But I'd be lying if I expected a lot more than the thrill of hearing some songs I'd internalised and the satisfaction of knowing those old dudes could still knock it out all right, by golly. What I did not expect was something as powerful, as jolting, as completely current as I got.
About two songs in, I realised that the fact that I had a history with this band's records, that I knew what I already know about them and their music, meant nothing as I stood there. If I had walked into the club clueless, I would have walked out with the knowledge that I had a catalogue of records to buy, and that I had seen a rock band that might have been together for two decades or might have been together for six months. Taking into account history, and the fact that every thirty seconds I heard something that someone had co-opted from their music the utter newness of what they were doing is all the more remarkable.
The brand new songs were great, the really old songs were great, and I need to listen to the latter-day records again to see if I was crazy to think they didn't measure up. I don't know if they play that well every night. I don't know if the less firmly shaped later material holds up against the older stuff all the time. It never did for me on record, but every bit of it did the other night. Even it's a fifty/fifty proposition that they'll be as good as they were here, I would submit that it is worth the gamble.'
Jeffrey with 2f's Jeffrey sent his report in:
'For me, the Chicago show rendered all discussion about 'principles' and 'doing something new' completely irrelevant. First, they most assuredly were not just reduplicating the recorded versions—that was clear from the opener Pink Flag, whose live version brought out the drone and repetition that far more implicit in the original, and continued with strongly reworked versions of 40 Versions and Advantage in Height.
I was strongly impressed with the show throughout, after a slightly slow start marred by some equipment glitches. But then Another the Letter opened with a blast of high-pitched feedback that ripped my ears from my scalp, then pummelled through the entire song at breakneck speed for what seemed like only 30 seconds. Wire went directly from that into a monumental Mercy, Gotobed's drums shaking the floor; the moment when he steps out of the martial, steady pulse to hammer out those 16th notes near the end ('calling out for mercy') was a huge adrenaline rush.
The encore was a brutal 12XU and a thrillingly abrasive Drill, Lewis' veins bulging on his neck as he screamed. One of the cool things seeing Wire live was getting a much clearer sense of who does what on guitar—something I'd never really been sure of before.
Some other favourite moments: Lewis' gut-shot bass sound, kind of like that incredible noise in Being Sucked in Again; the way Gilbert stood damned near still wrenching incredible noise from his guitar; Newman's cagey movement towards the microphone.
As for 'nostalgia', I take that to mean not only referencing or dealing with the past, but imagining it to be better than it really was, more whole, and inevitably overshadowing the present to the extent that one's crippled by an inability to respond to anything new or different. It's a sort of hiding, a cheap refuge. But if that's nostalgia, what Wire did had nothing to do with it. This was a reassertion that these songs weren't powerful only in their moment but are still powerfully able to speak now.'
Steve Loubert added this:
'Wire kicked ass. Just like that. Their set was powerful, muscular, intense, with none of the mugging and playing to the crowd that you might expect from a geezer reunion. The care they took to choose songs that they could play with conviction has really paid off. The sound is strong and full, better than any of the live recordings I've heard, which always sounded a little thin to me, and better than my recollection of the times I saw them in the '80s. I really hope they find a way to write and record new songs in this style. If you are undecided about going, make up your mind and find a way to get to a show.
Random observations: Graham, still quite possibly the coolest man alive, set the tone with his unrelenting intensity. Colin gave away most of the songs by playing a little of his part before the song began. Bruce looked fine, not old or out of shape at all. Robert's play was solid and tight. I love the way his minimalist approach never gets in the way of the music.
Biggest disappointment: the crowd. I suppose most of the old fans (like me) are just that: old. And maybe the younger ones in the crowd were merely curious, and not that into Wire. Nevertheless, I can't understand how a roomful of music fans, exposed to this overwhelming rhythmic assault, could just stand there watching, as if they were at an art gallery looking at a painting. Sure, there was a fair amount of head-bobbing going on, and even a little bouncing during 12XU, but all in all, pretty reserved.
After the show, I went up and down the stairs three times looking for the merchandise, and almost left before I found it. Best Wire T-shirt ever! The CD is ok, but doesn't really sound like the show I saw. Anyway, I guess I liked it.'
The Chicago reader review gave their verdict of the gig:
'They sounded tighter and looked thinner than I'd expected, and appeared unimpressed by their own reputation. Their set was short, a grinding, shimmering, and gorgeous hour, pulled off with a noteworthy lack of synthesised or pre-recorded help. They sliced through old and newer songs with equal urgency, shifting gears so fluidly it seemed like they'd never stopped playing, or playing together. Lean but saturated arrangements of the later material, using a handful of old low-tech tricks such as playing against delays, synchronised feedback and so on, proved that the sometimes elaborate production of those years really was consistent with Wire's basic minimalist/formalist method.
Highlights included solid, unadorned versions of 154's 40 Versions and Chairs Missing's Another the Letter and a fiercely slashing Advantage in Height from The Ideal Copy. But the centrepiece was definitely the soaring, hypnotic Silk Skin Paws from A Bell is a Cup....
Interestingly, Newman's lyrics were often severely pruned on tunes where they weren't already sparse. While I personally love his acerbic wordplay, especially some of his later occult and metaphysics-laced abstractions, the editing served to heighten the instrumental subtleties.'
© The Chicago Reader
12th May—Boston—The Roxy
email@example.com sent this report:
'Just got back from the Wire Boston show, and it was damn good! Lucky me, as soon I walked in, I see Colin and Robert walking in with Bruce and Graham right behind me. Yea, I should've said hi or something, but I guess I choked up—arrrgh! Anyway, the opening band was quite interesting, during one song they had this guy with his face mummified reading from some ghastly text.
Wire took a bit to set up, but it was worth it. The highlight for me was the amazing version of Mercy they did, just as good as the one from All Tomorrow's Parties.
The place was packed and seemed to really enjoy the show, even though the set was a bit short. They were selling a variation of the Pink Flag T-shirt with the pink squiqqly line on it and the It's all in the Brochure CD. The brochure CD is pretty good—the immersion track is an ambient delight, and the DJxDJ track reworks the intros to Finest Drops, Kidney Bingos, Drill, and Feed Me into a sound collage. The Krev track is nonsense, as it is only 40 seconds long, and He Said's T.I.T.L.E. is an incomprehensible bunch of drivel. As for the Wire tracks, they are quite cleaned up and the band sounds tight, with Lowdown sounding amazing and the vocals very clear, unlike tonight's show. And the rendition of 12XU is a glorious mess. All in all a good night, now all we can hope for is some new material...'
Sergey Kazachenko added his report:
'At exactly 8:30 our friends showed up. The whole set-up was rather minimalist, with a foil (or foil-like) curtain in the back and the whole band dressed in black pants and black T-shirts (Colin had "S.O.H.O." Inscribed on his, others' were blank). Bruce stood on the right, almost turning his back to the audience, looking at Robert's drum kit. Seemed like he was chewing bubblegum or something. He really didn't look like part of the show, more like he was thinking about something else during the whole set. Colin was clearly enjoying what he was doing, looked like even if the next moment the band and the audience would disappear, he still would be doing the same thing. Robert's drumming was brilliant, he scored the place above Dr.Avalance in my own drummer top 5. But the real showman was Graham. With his skinheadish look, great backing vocals and the overall involvement, he stole the show.
Sound quality was rather poor, especially in the beginning. The first part didn't really rock me, even Lowdown didn't feel that great. I guess the songs were too slow. It all changed with the song for which Graham changed his bass to that really cut off short toyish one (I think the song was Advantage in Height, but I might be wrong). The rhythm of his bass coupled with Robert's pounding did the magic. From there nothing could be wrong. People were dancing, everyone was clearly enjoying themselves.
My personal highlight was a great thrashy Another the Letter, it felt much more powerful than the version on the RFH CD. 12XU on the encore sounded great, though it felt like there were parts that were reworked just for the sake of rework. However, the closing Drill was brilliant, even that it had no vocals other than the closing line—just an endless ocean of noise and dugga that Graham (he changed the bass again) and Colin created. Anyway, it was a good show, though below my expectations—I guess the expectations were overly high.'
13th May—Washington—9.30 club
Mike Edwards sent this:
'The first three songs were absolute chaos. Colin's vocals too low, Graham fighting with the sound man about turning up his bowel rattling bass louder, lethargic performances over all.
After the slow start the boys began to warm to the dated material and the show lit fire in earnest. Lowdown brought the crowd and the performers into the moment and Advantage in Height raised the bar even higher. Graham was sullen and angry looking throughout, Bruce appeared as if there were someone off stage pointing a gun at his head and forcing him to play (he frowned at Graham the whole night, probably the result of Graham's insistence on playing his bass at mach 1 and muddying up the mix), but Colin was as upbeat and happy as I've ever seen him in performance. He seemed determined to connect with the audience and have fun.
They played a new song mid set, something about love or other, and it shows promise for the results of the Albini sessions. Drill was especially monstrous. The noise level went all the way to eleven as the boys beat their guitars senseless, Graham soloed on a toy guitar, and Colin only sang the line 'could this be a drill!' Brilliant.'
Jim Dingus sent this:
' The place goes dark and for five minutes this swirling, ambient, hypno-synth stuff seeps through the PA. Out walk Wire one at a time, looking 'mature' but in a very cool way. Gilbert stands stage-right, back to the audience, right ear to his amp, eye on his guitar, and doesn't move from that position the entire set. I didn't see his fretboard once. Gotobed sits like a robot behind the kit, eyes closed, pretty much in his own universe. Lewis, who is one cool geezer, enters stage left, straps his bass on, tweaks a could of knobs, gets a 'let's go to work' look on his mug and eyes Newman who with a grey metal-flake vox guitar, takes the point-centre stage, looks to Gotobed, shouts out the count and bang: Pink Flag's guitar roar fills the club. Within a few seconds I think everyone knew they were in for something special.
After a bit of sound adjustment on the Newman's vocals, they drove the song home. One of my first thoughts was that these guys, for whatever reason, are probably going to play the old stuff better today than it did back in the 70s.
Highlights included Pink Flag—Gotobed's like a metronome; he's one of the most economical drummers I've ever seen or heard; Lowdown—with major head-banging moves by Newman; 40 Versions—hypnotising was the word I heard most to describe it. Lewis singing the end verse, all over his bass' fretboard. Another the Letter into Mercy—incredible. 12XU—blew everyone's hair back for its two minutes. Newman crouching down during the build-up and slowly working his way to the mic each time the chorus tears open. Drill—the encore. Great!
No 'trotting out the hits' no big-time rock moves, no flashy outfits, no between song-banter; the word 'nostalgia' never entered my head. I think it was also good that the DC show was near the end of the tour and the band was just super-tight. Pros in the best sense of the word.'
From Robert Bourgeoisie sent this report:
'Wire took the stage and played (not necessarily in the correct order) Pink Flag, Silk Skin Paws, Boiling Boy, He Knows, Advantage in Height, 40 Versions, Mercy. The encore was 12XU and Drill. I was right up at the stage in front of Bruce and had planned to ask him for the set list, but as they left the stage prior to the encore the band made it clear that they intended to keep them, with Bruce kicking the set list towards the rear of the stage, and Colin picking his up and taking it with him. The band played the majority of the songs with their eyes closed, Robert in particular. The sound mix was wrong with Colin's vocals drowning in Graham's bass, but they did play well and the songs never degenerated into distortion mush, like so many other live bands often do.
The new song (He Knows) was okay, but not much of a departure from their '70s material. Songs that were changed included Drill and some of Boiling Boy and 40 versions.
The crowd was an eclectic bunch, with some people who could've almost been old enough to be my parents, some young people, some with technicolor hair, and one of the most interesting things was that I noticed many people at the show seemed to have come alone.
Now if only they would introduce more new material.'
15th May—New York—Irving Plaza
Unfortunately there are no significant reports from New York have surfaced yet. Apart from what everyone echoes above we can add that Robert Poss came on the play guitar with Wire for the Drill encore. One other piece of gossip was that David Bowie was in attendance and paid his respects after the show.
Bowie's diary page at davidbowie.com reported:
'Journal for Tuesday, May 16th 2000. All was groovy last night at Irving Plaza. Page Hamilton, Coco and I went over at around 10pm to catch one of my fave old bands, Wire. They were in pretty tremendous form, joined by one of the Janes at the end sonic onslaught. Foolishly missed Panasonic, who were opening but did catch the Hepcat Jim (foetus) DJ-ing. Jim is in great shape and spinning like a mad thing.'
nme.com filed this report:
Albini and Bowie—totally Wired!
'Wire: David Bowie and Steve Albini like them. A lot. Wire have been in studio with Steve Albini this month recording seven tracks, one of which is He Knows, a brand new song. The tracks are expected to surface later this year through Wire's web based label www.pinkflag.com and will mark the band's first brand new material since The First Letter in 1991.
The three-day session, recorded at Albini's Electrical Studio in Chicago, was a dream come true for the Shellac and former Big Black mainman. Speaking about the recording session, he gushed: 'man, oh man, this is great, almost unbelievable for me. Wire was one of major reasons I got into music in the first place. We've had some pretty famous bands in here but this is the peak for me, they are playing so great again.'
It's not the first time Albini and Wire have worked together. Bruce Gilbert and Graham Lewis from the minimalist punks guested at the last ever Big Black gig in London in 1987. They joined the band onstage to work through the Wire track Heartbeat.
Albini extended his stay at April's All Tomorrow's Parties festival at Camber Sands in order to watch Wire live.
Another big name fan turned up at Wire's New York Irving Plaza last Monday (April 15) on what is now the final leg of their 'revival' tour.
David Bowie joined the audience in a ten-minute standing ovation following the band's set.
The band play a three-night stand this weekend at London's Highbury Garage (May 26, 27, 28) in what they claim is the last chance to hear their older material.
Guitarist Bruce Gilbert has warned: it's the last chance to hear those old numbers. We've really enjoyed playing them again, and the response has been overwhelming but we are not a punk cabaret act. If we do anything else it would have to include mostly new material, so we've no real plan after the Garage.'
© New Musical Express
On a more general note the Canadian radio show Brave New Waves (on the CBC—sort of like Canada's BBC or NPR), aired an interview with Bruce on Thursday 4th May. It also featured rare demo tape recordings of the reformed Wire, solo recordings, and older Wire stuff. It can be found on: www.radio.cbc.ca/programs/bnw/notice/index.html.
26th-28th May—London—The Garage
Wire on form at the Garage in London
Three nights at the garage provided the following reports:
From Mark Bursa:
'Friday and Saturday were pretty much the same—apart from the fact that Wire were a lot harder and tighter on Saturday. The set was the same both nights—opening with Pink Flag, Silk Skin Paws, 40 Versions, Boiling Boy, Lowdown, Advantage in Height, Another the Letter, He Knows (which is sounding really good now—similar to A Mutual Friend in some ways, building to a nice crescendo in the middle before a long fade with Lewis intoning 'with all your love we're hypnotised to fade...) and Mercy wrapped up both nights, before the surprise encores; Mannequin and Go Ahead... ('Bet you didn't think we'd do that one' quipped Colin after playing it on Friday).
12XU and feisty versions of Drill (largely instrumental, with added Susan Stenger on Saturday) rounded up the night. Oh, and Heartbeat was the first encore on Saturday—the only change between the two sets.
Sunday was different—opening with a new (jammed?) song with Lewis on vocals, and two sax players, one of whom was the legendary Ted Milton out of Blurt (who I swear has not aged a day in 20 years) [The other was Terry Edwards of Gallon Drunk—Ed.]. Thereafter they played the same set but in a different order—adding Heartbeat and closing with Pink Flag. No encore, despite an enthusiastic crowd. And that, apparently, is that until August, when Wire will reconvene to write new material.'
From Tim Robinson:
'Very weird but very enjoyable Wire show on Sunday at the Garage. They opened with a horn driven freakout. They were using a sequenced backing track which Mr Gotobed obviously couldn't hear because he was quite out of synch with it—I did wonder whether we were going to get Document and Eyewitness part two for a moment.
They seemed to be playing the same set as the recent tour, but backwards! Quite different to All Tommorow's Parties, which was very tight, Wire played a more relaxed set. Heartbeat and He Knows were pretty soft and relaxed. They got loud and ferocious for Mercy and an awesome Pink Flag. Shame about the lack of encore.
One dickhead nearly ruined it by throwing an empty pot at Colin who responded with a swift finger and a big 'f**k off!'. (At least Colin didn't throw a tantrum and storm off stage like that softy Bobbie Gillespie from Primal Scream did in the same circumstances at Leeds... but that's another story).'
From Paul Rabjohn:
I did Sat/Sun, both nights brilliant but different. Consensus seems to be Friday was not so good. Saturday was the basic RFH set but with less songs played longer. Then the fab encore Heartbeat/Go Ahead/12XU and a climactic Drill (with Susan Stenger).
Sunday they sort of played it in reverse, with a brilliant Former Airline (indeed!) to start and Pink Flag to close. The lack of encore was a shame, but the gig was great anyway. I hung around and chatted to the band both nights. They seemed really keen to hang out and chat, which was great to see. I guess that's the end of this era. That seemed to be the vibe after Sunday. So now its new stuff or nothing, I guess?'
WMO can report that Wire are indeed reconvening in August/September. They hope to write enough new material that they can either take on tour or record. All of Wire feel that it was just long enough for them to play the old material one last time but if they are to move forward with any future they have to write new material.
The raft label have released a 7" single that features Bruce on the B-side. The track is called Radiator, Plane, Bang. The A-side is by Raum. The single is available from These Records, 112 Brook Drive, London, SE11
Bruce performed alongside Disinformation (Joe Banks), farmers Manuel and Nomex at the ICA, London on 30th March as part of the Disinfomation: Blackout' event. ICA's press release states:
'Military research into early warning systems has extended human perceptions dramatically in terms of distance, sensitivity and bandwidth. However, obsolescence is never far away. The result is a landscape littered with abandoned devices; a strange architectural legacy above and below ground. Blackout is a multimedia work made in response to these artefacts, exploring relationships between military architecture, sensory activity, archaeology and a vernacular avant-garde art.'
Cracked machine webzine have recently added an old Beekeeper interview to their site. It's quite surreal reading, mentioning as it does the not very likely situation of a Wire reformation!
In June Bruce will be DJing on the third Labradford Festival of Drifting. Other performers on the bill are Pole, Robin Guthrie, Iain Sinclair, Marc Atkins and Sigur Roth.
The dates and venues are:
24th June—Queen Elizabeth Hall, London
26th June—New Trinity Centre, Bristol
27th June—City Variety Music Hall, Leeds
28th June—Contact Theatre, Manchester
29th June—Arts Theatre, Colchester
Swim team #1 received good reviews and even The Sunday Times record of the week, here's Mark Edwards' review:
Various Artists—Swim team #1—swim wm30
'The recent Wire reunion disappointed a lot of people who were upset by the band's apparent lack of interest in playing the old songs. In Colin Newman's case, it's hardly surprising that he should be more interested in the work he is producing now, because it's fantastic. Swim team #1 compiles tracks from the artists on the Swim label, which Newman and his partner Malka Spigel set up back in 1993, and there isn't a duff track on it.
Ranging from various collaborations involving Newman and/or Spigel, through contributions from Denmark's lo-fi Symptoms, Canada's funky Legion of Green Men, Japan's mesmerising dol-lop, to one track by a 10-year old Bumpy, there is an amazing consistency to this culture and age straddling collection. Indeed, using the old music journalist's trick of putting the CD on without reading the label (to avoid colouring the listening experience with any preconceptions), I was convinced that this was all the work of one band. The finest musical moments belong to the record company bosses (and how often do you get to say that?): Spigel's beautiful The Fishes and the Shining Sea, and Newman's Blank Canvas, which sounds like something off Achtung Baby, only even nastier. Swim team #1 is an extraordinary compilation that manages to be both challenging and highly listenable at the same time. And in a protest against rip-off Britain, those nice people at Swim have chosen to sell it at the price of a 12" single. The only downside, really, is that if you get this you'll probably end up having to buy at least half a dozen albums from which the tracks were taken.'
© The Sunday Times
As reported a new CD is available from the official Wire site. Entitled It's all in the Brochure it includes extracts from all the participants performances. The full track listing is: Immersion—Les Isles Flottantes (Not Arriving); He Said—T.I.T.L.E.; DJxDJ—Untitled extraction; Krev—Royal Wave (extract); Wire—Pink Flag, Silk Skin Paws, 40 Versions, Boiling Boy, Lowdown, Advantage in Height, Another the Letter, 12XU.
The recording session in Chicago with Steve Albini may yield another CD release (see the June edition of Wireviews for more details).
gilbertpossstenger's manchesterlondon CD is now available from WMO or through Cargo. As reported previously this is the final WMO release to hit the shops. We have not given up on the possibility of 'limited edition mail order' CDR releases for a couple of remaining projects. Watch this space for details.
For those who missed our September newsletter here is our revised statement outlining our decision to call it a day and potential future plans:
WMO: the future...
The release of gilbertpossstenger's manchesterlondon marks WMO's final release. All outstanding releases have been shelved and may not appear at all.
When WMO was founded in 1994 we knew that we had a limited repertoire of releases and a finite period in which to operate. Five years on we feel we have achieved what we set out to do. However, the past two to three years in particular have been very tough.
Following the release of Wire' s Coatings in October 1997 our UK distributor, Vital, bought out it's biggest rival RTM and in the consolidation of their business a number of labels were dropped from their roster. WMO (and Swim) were victims. Distribution also fell through in the United States shortly afterwards.
The period following these crises WMO managed to regain distribution with Cargo in the UK and World Music Distribution in the USA and release P'o and Dugga in October 1998.
Since then our financial position has not got any better and with the release of the gilbertpossstenger CD we have decided to draw a line on any future activities. Distribution for the world will be covered by Cargo.
The past four years have been extremely enjoyable, frustrating, annoying but above all fulfilling. We are extremely proud of what has been achieved, despite the setbacks, and although future planned releases may not now appear we are still going to be around for some time yet. 'Down but not out'.
Needless to say we would like to thank all who phoned, faxed, emailed and cajoled. Thanks for the support.
We would like to thank the following who, over the years, have provided help and support:
messr Gilbert, Gotobed, Lewis and Newman: without whom...
Iain Adam; Denis Blackham; Michael Bull; Bill Dolan @ Cargo; Dave Coppenhall; Jim Derogatis; Mark Gage; Craig Grannell @ Wireviews; Simon Gutteridge; Stephen Harper, Bill Hein; Paul Kendall; Arthur Nalis @ Dutch East; Peter Rehberg @ Mego; Russell Mills; Daggan Stamenkovich and all @ Origin; Mary j. Owen; Didier Pilon @ WMD; Robert Poss; Charles Powne; Peter Price; Alicia Rose; Desmond Simmons; Maggi Smith; Paul Smith; Malka Spigel; Susan Steneger; Sharon Street; Andrew and Howard Jacques @ These; David Tidball; Mike Harding & Jon Wozencroft @ Touch; Geraint Jones @ Vital; Andrew Westmeyer @ the Wire page; Peter Wright; all radio stations and magazines who supported us, all those who 'whored' and 'dugga-d' and anybody we forgot!
Kevin S. Eden—WMO UK
Charles K. Snider—WMO US
Obviously, there are still some unanswered questions:
Will I still be able to buy WMO items from May 2000 onwards?
Yes. All titles are available directly from WMO or through your local retailer with the exception of:
Lewis/Gilbert and Mills—Pacific/Specific (in a different place)—now deleted.
Wire—Coatings—will be deleted in October 2000. The three-year licensing deal with Mute and the BBC expires then.
All remaining titles will be sold until stocks are exhausted. There will be no repressings.
Will I still be able to buy non-WMO releases from Wire Mail Order?
No. Wire Mail Order (UK) and (US) will continue beyond but will only stock WMO, Origin and Thousand titles.
The website (www.wiremailorder.com) will remain for mail order only and credit card facilities are being made.
What about the WMO titles that haven't been released?
WMO 7cd: Colin Newman—Vox Pop
Colin has stated that his 'future plans do not include the compiling or re-recording of material for Vox Pop. Should he wish to make this album in the future it will be released, via Swim, as a custom CDR only.'
WMO 10cd: the Ex-Lion Tamers—Flap King
There were no plans to release this. Two 'tribute' CDs are enough for any group.
WMO 12cdr: Michael o' Shea
We have shelved this release. The cost of production, etc, is too prohibitive when the sales potential is very small.*
WMO 15cdr: Bruce Gilbert—The Haring 2
A possible contender for future release as a mail-order custom CDR. Watch this space.
WMO 17cdr: Gilbert/Lewis/Mills—MZUI
We have shelved this release. Again, the cost of production, etc, is too prohibitive when the sales potential is very small.*
* Anyone who hasn't heard these albums and still wants to should contact WMO directly.
What will happen to the quarterly newsletter?
The September 1999 newsletter was the last to appear on our website. It will still be available by post on request. Since December 1999 the 'Wire newsletter' and the newsletter archive appear on the Wireviews website: http://welcome.to/wireviews.
This newsletter © 2000 WMO limited, except from other publications or stated authors which remain the copyright of the original copyright holders. All reviews are the opinion of the stated writers.