“We’re awarding points to people who know all the songs in the set,” Wire frontman Colin Newman quips in response to a group of hecklers calling out for hits. Of course, audience requests will be resolutely ignored at any Wire show. The same momentum that propelled their prolific and varied career has long prompted them to ditch older material in favour of whatever’s come next.
It follows, then, that despite opening with the dreamy post-punk of 1988’s Boiling Boy and throwing in Pink Flag touchstone Three Girl Rhumba, the set-list is tilted towards music created this decade. Performing with the same irascible charm which has kept them a relevant force for more than 40 years, songs taken from latest album Silver/Lead prove equal set highlights: Short Elevated Period is a punchy slice of modern post-punk, while the guitar – crunching and meandering in equal measure – in Diamond In Cups suggests they’re quite suited to this new lease of life.
Measured and mature, Wire 1977 this ain’t. But just as slower numbers threaten to drop the momentum a little too low, out of nowhere the band’s screeching guitars, already thick with distortion and feedback, roar into life, becoming ferociously loud and proving that live, much as on record, Wire can still surprise, delight and subvert.