Saturday 26 November 2011

Wire and Talk Normal at XOYO - 23 November 2011


They’ve overdone the dry ice.

Heading down into XOYO there is such a chalky fug in the air that if you had a canary in a cage about you, the poor little fella would be turning his toes up.

The atmosphere does not appear to have anything particularly to do with the first band, Talk Normal. I take to them right from the off.

It’s a deceptively simple set up. Andrya Ambro stands behind a drum kit and sings, Sarah Register does unspeakable things to a guitar whilst also occasionally chipping in with vocal contributions of her own.

The percussion is particularly notable, a fast, skittering constant ticking sound that conjures images of insects and unease. Vocals are as often yips or barks as anything that might be called ‘normal’ singing. However, just because you can’t make out what is happening doesn’t mean that it is not exciting and enthralling.

At one point Register starts playing her guitar with a screwdriver. Harsh, metallic shards of sound result.

Talk Normal are very much in the tradition of classic New York ‘No-Wave’ bands. Their songs are punchy, urgent, intense and delivered with steely conviction. I’m extremely pleased to have seen them.

This is the third time that I have seen Wire in under a year and they have become better each time. Tonight they are on positively incandescent form, and clearly enjoying themselves.

Wire have almost progressed from being a band to something more akin to a cult for their devoted followers. Their audience tonight is almost entirely men in their late forties or beyond who have an almost encyclopaedic obsession with the minutiae of the group. It’s about collecting statistics as much as it is about the music.

The set covers the band’s lengthy career from the most recent ‘Red Barked Tree’ album to stuff off ‘Pink Flag’ like “Two People in a Room”. There’s even a version of mid-period favourite “Boiling Boy”.

The fan boy scuttlebutt is that Wire’s next project will be a re-visiting of the songs that were to form their unreleased fourth album, and which only appeared on the disappointing and confused live album ‘Document and Eyewitness’. Some of these tracks may have been played tonight – there are certainly things going on that sound both new yet somehow familiar. This is of course a very Wire-y thing to do, looking forward and backward at the same time.

Tonight’s set ends with a version of “Pink Flag”, which clocks in at around six or seven minutes. It’s certainly shorter than the ten minute version that they played in Paris in May this year. (If you can’t beat the stattos, join them!)

Another Wire gig for the collection. And a very fine specimen indeed.

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