Nottingham Social Club

February 23 2000

Rewind a few days. "Wire are playing the Social club on Wednesday, I saw a flier". It's Mr T across the table in work. Fast forward to Wednesday. "So, are you going to go?" Uh yeah. Who are they and what are they? "They're playing stuff from their first 3 albums, they were like an art-punk band that went on to do lots of other stuff". Yeah, ok then. "It'll be the best 7 quid you've spent on a gig". Woa, challenge. I even resisted the temptation to say "wire we going to this?" wire - why are! Oh come on!!

So yeah, the first act is on by the time we get there. 2 people stood on stage with lots of hi-tech gadgetry laid out in front of them. Twiddle a few knobs here and there and out comes a whole host of new sounds and what appears a lot of the time to be squealches and static. It's not the sort of thing I listen to or have any vague idea of, so whether it's good or bad for its ilk is nigh on impossible for me to say. But I preferred the first half of their stuff, the static things. I guess if I were to make a link in that "there's actually no link whatsoever but it's the closest I can come up with based on what I listen to" kind of way, it would be oooh, I don't know. Nothing really. Maybe a bit of say the Labradford stuff - minimal, a sense of ambience and whatever. Dunno. Mr T liked the last song, or the second half. It got way too loud and too many high frequencies and sci-fi shrills - which is not good if you have tinitus. Must be getting old. He did say who to say they sounded like. But I've forgotten. Hang on, he's only sat over by there so I'll ask. Oi, Mr T, who did you say that first band sounded like? - "Boards of Canada put through a blender". Ah, knew it, was on the tip of me tongue. It was obvious really. Their name? Buggered if I know. Magnetophone I've been told.

Now, I know nothing of Wire, I think that point was made clear at the start. I know nothing of what to expect. The notion that they've been going since the start of the punk movement, that one back in '77 not '95 means I'm kind of expecting, well very little. What I'm not expecting is to see a Nottingham venue busier than I've seen in years. All this with it would seem a bare minimum of actually advertising. I've not seen a flier or a poster. Mr T saw just the one. It's enough to make me angry at the pretty poor turnouts that young bands often get! (Don't go to gigs kiddies. Gigs are evil. Gigs will corrupt you. I'm glad I don't go to gigs.) I'm pinned in against the back wall. There's a small lighting set up next to me to keep me company, but people still seem to insist that the only gap that exists for them to walk by, is between me and my mate the lighting thing. It's heaving, and it's hot. With all due respect, there are a number of people here who've seen the wrong side of 30. And as someone approaching 30 myself in way too short a few months, there's kind of a fear of "should I even be able to listen to the music that I do after that time. Am I past it." This was a reassurance. In many respects, for all the talk across all the scenes, for all the rhetoric and revolution, this was the real alternative - not people claiming to be alternative just because they feel that they need to express such a claim. This was different. This was breaking the taboo that you only listen to music when you're teenagers or in your 20s and afterwards will slip into easy listening mode. In many respects, this showed up much of the idealogies of the music I listen to for the trend oriented offerings that it is. When you've gone some distance and can still pull in a decent crowd, then you can fairly claim that you're not a trend, or a phase.

But the music. Yeah, it actually sounded really good. Highly melodic, lovely bass driven stuff. It stood out a mile. The songs are crafted, simple yet even on first listen you can appreciate them for being songs. Of course it's very different to punk now. Most people nowadays would probably sneer at it and dismiss it, sneer in a punkesque manner. But you know, punk now is not the punk that started. In the same way metal now isn't the way it started, or hardcore, or whatever. Everything mutates over time, usually to give it a contemporary feel. Which is fine, but means that the music means different things to different people, none of whom are wrong, but most of whom will debate the merits of it all. Just listen for the music. Towards the end of the set I move down to by the side of the stage, it was too hot and crowded where I was. There's appreciative nods going on in the crowd, but it's only after the band take their tea break and and play ? that there's anything resembling mass pogoing and activity. But it happens, the guy in the Stranglers t-shirt leading the way. Was this punk? Probably, but not in the anarchaic nature that's most often associated with the term, and not in the trouser dropping arse revealing nature of modern punk. In a way, it was more punk exactly because of what it wasn't.

But Mr T is still sat over there. He knows more titles than I do - well 1 would be more than I know. I'll just ask him what he thought of the gig, let him give his opinion. Oi, Mr T, what did you reckon to the gig last night then? "It was great, but they did stuff from the first 5 albums, from Pink Flag to It's Begining to and Back Again not just from the first 3. In spite of their age they still delivered an excellent set of music, still sounding as vital and original as ever. They went out on a bit of a high note."

Uh huh. And can I borrow some of those CDs now then? A different night, a revealing night, a good night - good night.