Tempting to think that Talk Normal were handpicked by Wire to open proceedings with the kind of awkward experimentation the latter group long left behind, but in reality (a) Wire still hide a lot of sharp corners in the pretty conventional songs played tonight and (b) Talk Normal’s racket is totally, completely great. Comprising two Brooklynite ladies (some middle aged men in the audience will later congratulate them in a surprised manner), it’s a noise dominated by rhythm and squall rather than melody, with Andrya Ambro’s compulsive drum beat putting needles under Sarah Register’s piercing guitar and one-finger keyboard. In their starker moments they conjure up bracing no-wave heroines Ut; in the urgent call and response yells and drawn out guitar work they just sound fucking cool, like classic NY rough edges party stars. Devastating, even in grey leggings.
There’s some obvious signs of age as Wire start, though most of them are in the audience. Despite Shouty Man In Crowd, they don’t play I Am The Bloody Fly, though chucking in Another The Letter as your second song is a sweet deal; 1978′s niggling romp sounding box fresh, and unspoilt by it’s main riff being played by a session guitarist who looks like he was stolen from Kurt Vile’s backing band. There’s very little played tonight from their first three albums, the ones that saw Wire ricochet from scabrous, crossword clue punk to gloriously mutated art rock in a ridiculously short space of time. This is a fine attitude, and though the bloody minded-ness is deflated slightly by playing two flipping encores, their shark-like aheadness leaves even less dazzling songs imposing and weighty still. Please Take, from this year’s Red Barked Tree, thrums with dignified melancholia, thanks to an excellently stoic vocal from bassist Graham Lewis (good facial contortions too). 1988′s The Boiling Boy adds guitar layers so subtly it’s a thrill to be suddenly caught in the crashing, krauty finale. 1979′s Great Lost Single Map Ref. 41°N 93°W moves from perfunctory version to electrifying version once Colin Newman’s vocals start yowling at the song’s end. Always their presence is physical and jarring, a fact jabbed into your temples by a slowly steamrollering Pink Flag, a roll call of buried bodies set to stately explosions. Newman follows each glowering number, each minute long thrasher, with a steady swipe of his onstage iPad. They keep going, two fingers forever.