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All Tomorrow's Parties, Camber Sands, UK (April 9, 2000)

Pontins Holiday Camp at Camber Sands is a far cry from the Royal Festival Hall. In fact, it is a somewhat surreal location for a three day festival of lo-fi guitar mangling, resembling, as it does, an open prison for young offenders, only with a fantastic beach, people in Panda costumes, Crazy Golf and a Go-Cart track!

On the Saturday I managed to grab a quick chat with Colin Newman outside a giant polystyrene Octopus! Colin seemed really enthusiastic about playing, and mentioned that Wire was currently mixing live tapes of the RFH show for a possible live record, and that he was particularly pleased with Boiling Boy and Lowdown. He said they had started with about 40 songs when planning the current gigs and were basically playing the ones that they felt they could play with conviction... and that had the easiest chords! He also pointed out that the songs were starting to morph and change quite radically the more they played them.

Wire did not disappoint. In fact my co-festival goers, most of whom were not fans, felt that they played with more energy and impact than most of the other bands at the festival.

It was great to be down the front after having watched them from up in the circle in the rather stuffy, rarefied atmosphere of the Royal Festival Hall.

The main stage was running an hour late, which according to the NME was down to Wire sound checking for two hours. It was worth it! The sound was excellent, everything you'd expect—plenty of buzz, roar and duggaduggadugga!

Graham added a bassline reminiscent of Ahead to the closing bars of Boiling Boy that sounded more energetic than previous live versions. Mercy was breathtaking; Advantage in Height was played like an out-take from Pink Flag complete with truncated ending and sounded superb. Another the Letter sounded stunningly fresh, and they made an endearing mess of 12XU, which was probably deliberate.

After their allotted time was up Wire started to leave the stage but someone in the wings gestured for them to play on. So they did the only decent thing and launched into ten minutes of the best Drill I have ever heard, complete with a few hearty screams from Graham and a fabulous false ending. Colin teased everyone by edging closer and closer to the mike and eventually sang "Could this be a Drill?"; and off they went. Graham stood for a few moments clutching his head as the others left the stage—I'm not sure if this was some kind of theatrical gesture of whether he had done himself a mischief. Who knows?

You couldn't really follow that. Mogwai were on next and despite being half Wire's age, sounded like Yes in comparison!

Set list: Pink Flag, Silk Skin Paws, Boiling Boy, He Knows, 40 Versions, Lowdown, Mercy, Advantage in Height, Another the Letter, 12XU, Drill.

Tim Robinson

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