Wire + Per Purpose + Multiple Man @ The Zoo, 19.02.2014


One of my New Year’s resolutions for 2014 was to do more interviews. It wasn’t really because I really wanted to do them and re-invent myself as an interviewer as much as it was that we kept being offered them and no one was ever interested. So potential interviews with the likes of Mudhoney, Future Of The Left (as a couple of examples) just went begging. Once you start turning down things, it’s a short step to not being offered anything.

Interview No.1 was with Adalita and great and I really enjoyed it (apart from the transcribing bit). I had a list of what I thought would be interesting questions but not being used to how quickly 20 minutes goes by, we’d barely gotten into them before it was time to end. Next up was an interview with Wire, with time scheduled with both Colin Newman and Graham Lewis. The line to Colin was terrible from my end and wasn’t helped by the incessant stream of planes overhead on their way to the airport. I think the flight paths must have changed at some point because it didn’t use to be like this. It was hard to hear what he was saying and the guy can definitely talk; I could barely get a word in edgeways but the list of questions didn’t really matter as it was just a really interesting conversation and we went massively overtime, almost double what was scheduled.

It was only when I went to transcribe the first of the two-part interview that I found out that there had either been an upgrade to Android or the app I was using (I can’t remember which) that meant that it didn’t record properly. Whereas the interview with Adalita a couple weeks earlier had recorded both of our voices perfectly, the update meant that instead of the other person’s voice being recorded internally, it had now been captured only through the phone microphone via the sounds coming out of the speaker. So in addition to being a terrible line, with an annoying amount of background noise, it meant that the recording of the other voice was virtually inaudible. I tried various software to bump the signal to a more coherent level in order to try and transcribe it. Although this worked to some degree, there were passages that were still too quiet and which had to be left out.

The Graham Lewis interview a few days later went similarly well. Having gone well over the scheduled time with Colin, it meant that I started with less credit on the phone card I’d been given by the PR people than expected. The line was better for me this but not from Graham’s end in Sweden, where he was getting a lot of noise and interference. As a result of this, he got me to call back a few times which meant that the already small phone card credit further diminished with the initial connection fee. It was another really enjoyable chat but we were less than 8 minutes into it before the pips sounded and the call cut out. I explained what had happened to the PR the following day and asked them to apologise to Graham for the call being cut off so suddenly but not sure if he got it. Sorry Graham. Maybe we can try again next time?

The Zoo’s website lists them as only playing for an hour from 9:40pm to 10:40pm but seeing the 19 song setlist on the stage floor, it’s clear that’s not going to happen unless they’re going back to those sub-two minute songs for almost the whole performance. Having spoken to them about the need to always be moving forward, they’ve really put this into practice with the setlist made up of more new songs than you would generally expect to see at a show, as well as a lot of the band’s current Change Becomes Us album. There’s not that much from Wire’s extensive back catalogue, although ‘Drill’ and ‘Map Ref 41°N 93°W’ and ‘Marooned’ get played. Of the new songs played, the highlight is ‘Harpooned’, the last song of the main set that ends with a one chord wall of sound that lasts for about 10 minutes.

Graham Lewis makes a comment about the crowd being subdued but it’s one of those nights where it’s really hot in The Zoo and everyone is wilting even before the band starts. Wire show no sign of jetlag or suffering with the heat and it’s slightly surprising to see him pulling out all the rock star moves; you can tell that he really loves being on stage. Colin Newman is quieter, doesn’t say much between songs and the banter is left to Graham Lewis.

There is one guy in the crowd going nuts for the whole set, obviously annoying the people at the very front but what do they expect? Everyone else in the room just laughs at this guy being so into it. As had been forecast by the band when I spoke to them, it’s a very mixed crowd and a real spread of ages. It’s also the second gig in a row at The Zoo that someone has busted out a joint and filled the venue with a plume of smoke.

It’s awkward to photograph as Graham Lewis has music stand with his lyrics and Colin Newman has his on an IPad that attached to a mic stand. The clutter makes clear views impossible although Graham Lewis ditches the music stand right after the third song and when I’ve moved away from the front. Robert Grey is another one of those drummers who plays with his eyes shut , always annoying from a photographic point of view, while second guitarist Matt Simms plays way out to the side in the dark. Even with all these obstacles, I’m fairly happy with the photos from the night.

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