Wire DVD review [Pink Flag]

Film / Video Reviews
Wire DVD review [Pink Flag]
Oct 28, 2006, 03:23

WIRE The Scottish Play: 2004 DVD

Wire's long, ever-unfolding aesthetic program is marked by one underlying principle: pedantic transgression. They emerged when punk rock was defining itself by its most yobbish extremes and were pointedly conceptual and intellectual. Having been lionized for the elegant guitar-based minimalism of their first three albums, they transformed themselves as beat-savvy, synth-hugging indie-popsters. Now that the bulk of their prior works have been embraced as seminal, they return to action with an entirely different and unexpected agenda—creating spiky, fleet guitar-punk via computerized cut-up techniques. Their most recent two EP's and full-length studio effort were famously created by jamming for a couple days then cutting and pasting (and probably copying) the results into structured songs, adding vocals and producing largely stunning results.

The Scottish Play: 2004 DVD documents the results of the last step in the process—Wire going back to learn the body of work thus created and playing 'em in real time on orthodox rock instruments in front of live audiences. Very flipping po-mo. Very flipping great! The DVD comprises a live performance filmed in Glasgow 4/30/04, plus selections from an art installation/live show staged the year before.

Frankly though, the main attraction of this footage is the music, period. If you're already a Wire fan this is precious, lovely stuff (and the perfect companion to the Wire On The Box: 1979 DVD – Wire caught at a high point in their early career). The main film is straight-ahead concert footage shot with a minimum of technical razzle-dazzle in keeping with the show's staging: no frills, no shenanigans; not inherently visually/cinematically galvanizing. The record of the installation is somewhat more inherently intriguing as Wire performed behind huge scrims that were alternately projected with a dizzying array of imagery or backlit to show each band member in silhouette. This was all shot from one stationary camera at the back of the venue, so not quite as powerful as how more dynamically filmed and edited footage might have been.

NONETHELESS—this is exhilarating, provocative music whether you're a long-time fan or this is your first exposure to it. To see it translated to live performance does bring added bite, vim and humor to the material and even without pyro or grandstanding or intricately edited footage profoundly thrilling a valid entry is still made.

PS: this comes packaged with an audio CD of the Glasgow performance. [Pink Flag]

-Howard Wuelfing

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