Wire is a one-way journey, as singer and guitarist Colin Newman says. A deep, disturbing, not necessarily pleasant but always unique and meaningful one. As soon as the band enters the stage at Manchester Academy 3, the atmosphere gets thicker and they take the audience deep into a frenetic hypnosis. The first opening song is ‘Blogging’ –gorgeous lyrics, by the way: “Blogging like Jesus/Tweet like a Pope/Site traffic heavy/I’m YouTubing hope”-; followed by ‘Joust and Jostle’, both from Wire’s latest homonymous album.

The iPad that Newman has next to him, as if it was a second mic, attracts my attention –not to mention his classy range of guitars; it seems he uses the device to keep track of the lyrics. By the time they play the third song, ‘Silk Skin Pawns’, I realise that it is not fair to say they’re still fit: they’re in a continuous state of grace.

That could explain the seriousness of their faces. They’re so focused on their music, they look confident and confortable enough not to need to please the audience nor the mass. It is so honest of them; that is precisely what makes the difference and honours them.

There is a good crowd tonight, most of them belong to the ‘Pink Flag’ generation, I dare to say. I look around and notice the audience is as focused on the music storm as are Colin Newman, Graham Lewis, Robert Grey and Matthew Simms. With the ‘vintage’ song ‘Drill’ comes the ecstasy. It is particularly noteworthy the moment in which all the members of the band play eyes-closed while ‘High’ brings a gently twisted, fleeting harmony shortly afterwards.

It may be so obvious and predictable to play ‘In Manchester’ new song for such a ‘never-what-you’d-expected’ kind of band, but they actually do. It is said that is not a hymn to the city, but it could be so, as it perfectly suits Manchester’s vibe and charisma.

After this sweet moment of redemption, we turn into silent zombies with ‘Sleep-Walking’. Everything turns darker, but it’s a strangely cosy darkness. Funny contradiction! The ground trembles under my feet, my mind spreads. Guitarist Matthew Simms creates a phantasmagorical atmosphere down on his multiple synthesizers, screaming tales storm into scene. Funnily enough (or maybe not) one word comes to my mind: coherence. They ask for “one more chance” in the surrounding ‘Shifting’, and explode their latent punk-rage in ‘Stealth of a Stork’, “Change!”, shouts Newman.

‘Split Your Ends’ and ‘Octopus’ are sparkling dark as well, but it’s when they start playing the ‘old’ ‘Blessed State’, from ‘154’ album, they get a brief and perhaps nostalgic ‘wow!’ from the audience. ‘Swallow’ triggers an electrical storm, while ‘Harpooned’ reaches a distorted nirvana; even Colin Newman himself suddenly stops singing and playing the guitar to adopt a catatonic state, hands (and mind, I guess) free.

They leave for the encore a trace of the origins, ‘Brazil’, from ‘Pink Flag’. Barely a half minute length is “enough” for that song, as Newman tells us ironically. One of the most magic moments of the night comes with ‘Adore Your Island’, because is only when they see how Simms has gone completely crazy on guitar that Newman and Grey -finally!- give a hint of a smile.

Red lights on the stage predict the final credits of this overwhelming performance, and Wire says its particular goodbye with ‘Used to’, another ‘old one’ (who said they didn’t play old songs?). Newman unplugs his iPad. This is the end. “New Apple’s divine/Dream time destruction/Outback becomes mine” (from ‘Blogging’ lyrics).

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Amaia Santana

Good karma brought me here to Manchester, my second home, where you can stay healthy (despite the weather) and young forever, as you can breathe live music in every corner of the city. I do believe in the healing power of music (rock is my life vest) and I'd be so glad to share my passion with you rockers of the world!