Saturday, March 19, 2011

Wire, live @ Gagarin 205 (Athens, March 13, 2011)

The DNA of all post-punk music and its many variations and mutations over the last 30 years is based on the minimalistic but perfectly formed sonic outbursts that Wire recorded between 1977 and 1979 in their first three immaculate LPs.  The band's influence goes beyond punk, and can be heard in the musical output of numerous acts throughout the years, from R.E.M., Guided By Voices and Blur to The Strokes or Franz Ferdinand to randomly name a few. So even when the members of Wire (Colin Newman, Graham Lewis, Robert Gotobed, Bruce Gilbert) occasionally took a few years off to do other things, their music never stopped being as relevant as anything that the latest next big thing had to offer.

34 years on from their seminal debut "Pink Flag", Wire has released its twelfth studio album, the fine "Red Barked Tree" which musically is closer to the band’s more melodic, electronic pop-inclined '80s period, and has gone on the road once again. This time, luckily for us, this road brought them for the first time ever in Athens for a long overdue concert in front of their admittedly not numerous but certainly devoted Greek fans.

The almost 90-minute set kicked off, to my delight, with "Comet", one of the standout tracks off their 2003 "Send" LP, the best work of the band’s more recent output, and continued with the rockin’ "Smash", one of the tracks from the new album. Wire has never been a nostalgia act, so although the audience (myself included) would have loved to listen more tracks from their seminal first period, it was "Red Barked Tree" that formed the backbone of their live set with a total of 8 tracks. The highlight of the new batch was "Moreover" (video below), an art-punk gem as great as anything Wire did back in the '70s, which was actually followed by one of the few tracks that they played from that period, "Two People in a Room" off "154". Not surprisingly, given the new material’s closeness to their '80s sound, it was 1988 LP "A Bell Is a Cup... Until It Is Struck" that got the best representation from their past work with three tracks ("Silk Skin Paws", "Kidney Bingos" and "Boiling Boy"). Colin Newman, Graham Lewis, Robert Grey (aka Gotobed) and touring guitarist Matt Simms left us after two encores with the title track from "Pink Flag", a glorious finale to a set that may have left out an important part of the band’s history but still packed a mighty art-punk punch!

Wire, live@Gagarin 205
It is worth mentioning that the support act for Wire’s first Athenian gig was Victory Collapse, one of the best local post-punk bands, that presented their very promising new material. Let’s hope that the release date of their first album is not too far away!

Victory Collapse, live@ Gagarin 205

Wire - Moreover, live@ Gagarin 205, Athens (March 13, 2011)

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