Following on from their one night at the substantial Royal Festival Hall, post punk, post new wave legends Wire also got intimate with fans with three consecutive nights at the far smaller (and grubby) Garage in Highbury. "Unsupported, honed & magnified" said the flyers and this was not just a boastful statement.
No support meant we had a couple of hours of DJ entertainment and that may indeed have been his name tag. His unusual, but surprisingly successful, blending of hip hop, electro, punk, pop and more provided a suitably leftfield, almost surreal air to the proceedings. The gathered 30, 40 and 50 somethings (the men mostly with grey shaven heads like their heroes due on stage) were milling around on this second of the three nights. Mute meister Daniel Miller could be seen chatting at the back of the main crowd and although the size of the audience was more than respectable there was quite a bit of space at the back indicating that perhaps this wasn't a total sell-out. But then neither were Wire.
I have to say here that I am not a Wire 'fan' (I have just one album) but my girlfriend is. Therefore my knowledge of their subtantial output is minimal but it was quite clear that tonight they were going to concentrate on the early stuff. That which has the 'punk' attitude, if it isn't entirely 'punk' in execution. So we had several songs running well under the two minute mark and more than one began with that classic refrain "One, two, three, four!" before launching into a load of guitar noise. The stage was bathed in one strong white light throughout the entire set. There were no coloured lights, no flashing lights, no projections, no 'theatrical' smoke, no nonsense basically. And what a refreshing difference it made to. Wire didn't need to resort to such trickery. As the flyer said, this Wire were 'honed'. And it showed. These were four musicians who clicked effortlessly and recreated their sound perfectly. Seasoned pros? Sure, but without all the 'music biz' bollocks that normally goes with it.
Of those in the audience who did have any hair to speak of, a handful of diehards at the very front had suitably spikey and colourful creations adorning their heads. And it was great to see them complete the image with relatively lively pogo dancing - creating a scene I was just too young to witness first time around. Whilst the audience here lacked the youthful aggression of their late 1970s counterparts (or indeed themselves at that time) they were definately loving this. Despite lacking the insight a fan would have, I still had a good time. Almost as if in defiance of the grey hair, spectacles and odd wrinkle, Wire were totally convincing. Their musical talents both in songwriting and performing put the dross that fills the charts today into sharp contrast. Even if one doesn't like a great deal of what they have produced over the last 20 years or so, no reasonable person can deny Wire's talents and important contribution to music in the latter half of the last century.