Wire: Document And Eyewitness

Post-punk high-wire-walking live performance from 1980.

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Like John Lydon, Wire baled from punk after just the one album. Unlike Lydon, Wire also baled out of the charts and, for several years, existence. Their career, from punky art thrash like 12XU and Dot Dash to the hard brilliance of 154 (and the chart suicide bid of releasing a single titled Map Ref. 41 Degrees North 93 Degrees West), was essentially a statement against everything.

And so it made complete sense when, in February 1980, Wire performed and recorded a show which had nothing to do with Sham and West Ham, and everything to do with Dadaism and annoying people. As people struck cookers with hammers on stage, dressed up funny or dragged other people across the stage, Wire performed almost entirely new material such as Piano Tuner (Keep Strumming Those Guitars) and the far-from-pronounceable ZEGK HO QP.

Augmented by a more normal set from 1979 and audio commentary from friends of the band, Document And Eyewitness came out on Rough Trade into a world still in thrall to The Jags. Thirty years later, Document And Eyewitness works best in the way its name describes: as an account of a moment when bands would do the wrong thing and do it brilliantly.

David Quantick

David Quantick is an English novelist, comedy writer and critic, who has worked as a journalist and screenwriter. A former staff writer for the music magazine NME, his writing credits have included On the HourBlue JamTV Burp and Veep; for the latter of these he won an Emmy in 2015.