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LIVE REPORT: Wire & Toy
Luke Turner , March 24th, 2013 10:33

Night three of DRILL:LONDON, and Wire support Toy at the Lexington. Words by Luke Turner and Laurie Tuffrey, pic thanks to Richard Pearmain

WIRE

Last night, Graham Lewis rather mischievously told me that Wire were planning to play their support slot for Toy as support bands should - loud and hard, a setting of dynamite underneath the derrieres of the young pups. Some what mischievously, I couldn't resist telling Toy that this was Wire's plan just after their soundcheck at the Lexington - pleasingly, the band members respond with wild grins and the assurance that "we want to be fucked with". Wire's fuckery sees them roll out a sharp, seven song 30 minute set of some of their heaviest material, some of it taken from the utterly killer Send. That 2003 album, a Wire high water mark until brilliant new record Change Becomes Us is as caustic as they come, and three tracks from it are aired tonight. 'Spent' sees Colin Newman twisting faces, shrieking "Speeeennnnt" as Graham Lewis does his impersonation of a RSM you wouldn't want to come up in front of at a disciplinary, Robert Grey, eyes shut still a machine behind the drums and Matt Simms (the only member not in black) conjuring all sorts of noise from behind is fringe. They steam through 'Comet' (a motivational anthem for the Quietus when we're lacking vim)... "and the chorus goes b... b... b... BANG" and deliver edgy, fractious versions of 'Drill' (later to be taken into another dimension in a militant cosmic performance with Teeth Of The Sea at Cafe Oto), 'Boiling Boy', 'Another The Letter' and 'Two People In A Room'. It's not only a lesson in how to be a support band (make your point fast and loud and fuck off) but also how to mine and reconfigure your past to immediate, and thrilling effect. Under the cosh of these tracks, nostalgia takes a hiding. Luke T

TOY

Perhaps it’s because the sonic spectre of Wire is still hanging in the air, but TOY are a tighter force than ever tonight. Last year, fed through Heaven’s mammoth rig, Dominic O'Dair’s guitars hovered like a pulverising, stinging mist above the rest of the band, but now they get re-focussed in a mix that forefronts both Tom Dougall’s vocals and Alejandra Diez’s grinding keyboards. And this only seems to serve them better, with the songs taking on a new-found directness: ‘Motoring’ feels more detailed than it has done at previous shows, its motorik rhythm and keys more triumphant here, and the dynamic shift to ‘My Heart Skips A Beat’, with a gloriously grimey undertow from Dougall’s rhythmic guitar chop, is clearer.

That’s not to say there isn’t noise: new song ‘Fall Out Of Love’ breaks off halfway through to shift to a droning 6/8 section, while first single ‘Left Myself Behind’ feels more muscular, as chorused voices channelling 60s pop melodrama shift to self-doubt, aided by waves of warped synth. All the time, the four fringe-draped heads at the front of the stage bob ever more furiously.

The set closes, as usual, with ‘Kopter’, which powers with a ferocity that borders on self-destructive. ‘Kopter’ is TOY’s ‘You Made Me Realise’ — the recorded version gets reincarnated as something even vaster live, with a teleological endpoint that the crowd and band are simultaneously urging it to get to: that curving, dissonant keyboard refrain is coming, and when it does, the result is hypnotically propulsive. The furious guitar thrash gradually maps onto a rhythm, but each instrument feels like it’s straining to become unhinged from the others, hurtling towards some glorious cataclysm. But it doesn’t. They’re too good to let things just fall apart. It stops just short. Which is the perfect place to call time: they’ve guided us through both sides of TOY — the taut post-punk songwriters and the mechanistic noisesmiths — and distilled them into one incisive, coruscating set. Laurie T

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