Colin Newman. Picture: Jakub Dammer

CONCERT
Wire
4.5 stars
Chevron Festival Gardens
REVIEW HARVEY RAE

Wire would be the most frustrating live act on the planet if they weren't so good. Their refusal to play their best-loved songs in concert means the most discerning Wire fan will have trouble picking between the new, unreleased and deep cuts to find a favourite in the mix.

The fact it's barely noticeable when watching them is the most perplexing part. Wire want you to feel like you're watching a new band every time they go on stage, despite the fact their original members are aged between 59 and 62.

Those in the know will have looked up set lists from the past year or so and realised that despite the odd choices, Wire do tend to stick to the same track selection. As such, it's possible to prepare yourself for a Wire gig to some degree but, even then, they surprise with a barrage of guitar noise and driving rhythms.

The Festival Gardens delivered a modest Monday night crowd but made a good call in sectioning off the back half of the seating, ensuring punters had to get among it on the dance floor, creating plenty of atmosphere.

Wire built up slowly with Marooned, one of just three tracks from their esteemed 1970s catalogue, before launching their first all-out assault with Drill, a rare 90s pick.

Plenty of new tracks followed, including Doubles & Trebles, Adore Your Island and As We Go from last year's Change Becomes Us, while two tracks from 2011's Red Barked Tree, Smash and Please Take, were stand-outs.

Several unreleased tracks made the cut. Blogging Like Jesus and Swallow sounded impressive but the infamous Harpooned, which closed the main set, is the one fans will be hoping makes Wire's next album. It was surely the Festival Gardens' loudest, most intense moment for 2014.

Following an encore of Boiling Boy, Comet and Spent, new kid on the block Matt Simms, whose weird guitar sounds were a highlight all night, left remaining original members - bassist Graham Lewis, human drum machine Robert Grey and lively frontman Colin Newman - to finish with a wall of white noise.

Newman manipulating his guitar sounds via a Midi set-up on an iPad was breathtaking stuff and symbolic of Wire circa 2014: still ahead of the curve.

Earlier, Perth's own exponents of noise-rock Usurper of Modern Medicine served up a suitably loud and boundary-pushing feast of their own, with distorted bass, lead drumming and sci-fi synths accompanied by an impressive DIY visual show.

The West Australian

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