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Review: Wire

BEING hailed as an iconic influence doesn’t necessarily shift tickets. On a Saturday night in Dublin’s Academy, the pleasant but derivative plodding pop rock of Feeder headlines upstairs, while one of the most seminal acts of all time are packed off to the basement, almost as an afterthought.

Along with Gang of Four, Wire are deeply embedded in the DNA of contemporary alternative rock. Justine Frischmann of Elastica acknowledged them as a primary inspiration, even having to make an out-ofcourt settlement with the progressive punk outfit. Blur, The Cure, Manic Street Preachers and My Bloody Valentine have all payed homage, while REM even emulated a Wire song for their 1994 hit ‘What’s the Frequency Kenneth?’

The 2011 incarnation of Wire aren’t resting on any laurels or indulging in mere nostalgia. They’re on the road to promote their newly released twelfth studio album ‘Red Bark Tree’. The quartet tear into an abrasive set without ceremony or platitudes.

Sadly, the sight lines are abysmal to the point of being non-existent. The low roof and stage of Academy 2 means that it’s completely impossible to get anything resembling a view outside the very front row, a problem exacerbated by a sold-out crowd.

Paradoxically, Wire’s compelling rumble somewhat suits this basement dive, lending the impression of being at an early underground show rather than seeing a band a few decades into an illustrious career

The new material is surprisingly brilliant and received accordingly, rather than punters groaning through the newbies as they patiently wait for the hits. Wire reward their fans with two short sets of encores and singer Colin Newman finally says something onstage.

Sadly, they don’t find room for one of their best known songs ‘Map Ref 41°N 93°W’, which was once memorably covered by My Bloody Valentine.

Wire are still a stirring live proposition after all these years, outliving virtually every band that they’ve directly inspired.