They say that 1991 was the year that punk broke in America. If that was the case, having watched Jogging you could say that 2011 was the year that grunge broke Dublin. The band's copies of Superfuzz Bigmuff must be well worn out by now - despite the admirable energy and talent on display, Jogging come across as a rather fine facsimile of all your favourite greasy distortion bands. The set goes on for about 15 minutes too long leaving behind a few ringing ears and a mostly bemused audience.
To say tonight's audience is restrained is somewhat of an understatement. The demographic is (ahem) mature, with more than one eye on the time due to having to work tomorrow/relieving the babysitter/having a sore backï¿½delete as appropriate. So the reception when Wire takes to the stage, grooving along goofily to the dub reggae intro, is a little underwhelming.
'We're Wire' snarls bassist Graham Lewis, who resembles nothing less than an east-end gangster sent round to put the frighteners up you, 'Who are you?'
'You're very quiet' observes Colin Newman as the band, clad in uniform black, take up their instruments. ï¿½There's a first time for everything I suppose'.
The band launch into Smash, from this year's surprisingly good Red Barked Tree and it's instantly apparent that Wire can still cut it. It's dirtier than the album version, rougher and almost confrontational, setting the tone for the night. While contemporaries like the Stranglers are content to front a punk-rock cabaret, Wire dip into their extensive back catalogue to provide an engaging performance.
The big surprise of tonight is the absolutely epic Red Barked Trees, which sees Wire take flight as some dubbed up drone-rock outfit, producing a wall of sound that would put Spacemen Three to shame. On the other end of the spectrum we have a vicious double whammy of Boiling Day and Spent, with pedals to the floor and Newman spitting invective over a glorious racket.
The band file off-stage, before returning for the first of two encores. It's a bit limp in places and you can see the band is clearly a bit miffed from the lukewarm reception but the second encore is far better received, with the final song descending into cathartic chaos.
As the stage is disassembled Newman reaches into his pocket, fishing out his iPhone. Tapping a few keys he pulls up a keyboard on the screen before applying it to his pickups as an impromptu E-Bow, tearing sheets of feedback out of his guitar.
"All this and it makes calls too!" he shouts, before leaving the stage to rapturous applause
The audience files out into the somewhat appropriate cold and rain, musing on the absence of 'hits' like Dot Dash or I am the Fly, yet it's a testament to the band that they managed to retain our focus without pandering to the nostalgia heads.
From snotty two-chord punk, through to pastoral XTC style power-pop, Wire's music is quintessentially English. This is not the capering throw-around 'Cool Britannia' of Blur or Supergrass, but one rooted in the paranoid, disillusioned hard-times of the late 70's and early 80's, all Thatcher and the Bomb, race and recession. Maybe that's why it went down so well.