Wire, Katadreuffe, Weekend Paradiso, Amsterdam 14/02/11

Despite it being Valentine’s day, Incendiary decided to give sentiment a kick into touch and go and catch the dark questing vibe of Wire and the impenetrable gnostic mutterings of local heroes Katadreuffe. We got there early to catch the loud and driving Weekend, who are a threepiece band from California. Weekend certainly rocked out, their problem being that there are only so many takes on Heroes or After Eight any band can muster. Plus the band in our eyes was screaming out for a front man to galvanise the undoubtedly good musicians into attempting something more than recreating the sum of their parts.

Next up, after a slightly surreal conversation where Incendiary got called snobs for championing Dutch bands, we had Katadreuffe, (the person who called us snobbish didn’t stick about to see them, by the way). Perhaps the best thing about Katadreuffe is the way they make the same sonic template work for near enough everything they do; and the way they capture the audiences imagination with that template. Essentially, they have two big tricks, both of them sure-fire winners in our eyes. Firstly they are uninterested in playing up to the crowd, whilst imposing a fierce discipline in presenting their set. There’s little time for chats or uncertainty, and there’s a sense of power about this that is pretty compelling to watch. Secondly they put every idea they possess through this thick, heavily textured stew of sound. Watching and listening to them is always akin to being battered round the head with the same chair leg, but they always manage to come across as something special. And it must be said that the audience were intrigued enough to stick around to watch the assault unfold in all its Puritan fury, despite one or two sound issues. Top band.

A seemingly interminable wait ensued, (during which a large number of surprisingly young, lithe and glamorous types joined the tide of greying bespectacled tide down the front), though the wait also luckily included the spectacle of a lot of tape being plastered round the stage by “be-Glengarried” bassist, Graham Lewis. Finally the band popped on, and kicked off into a set that drew from all points of the compass.  It’s difficult to assess what Wire will play live, their set always changes but there’s always a (revolving) sprinkling off the renowned first 3 LPs. They seem pretty chuffed with blasting out a lot of their new LP Red Barked Tree too, as well as a few bits and pieces from Send and Object 147, and so they should because tracks like Please Take and give a fair bit of light and shade to their more visceral early tracks. We got a fair wedge of the latest record, including a marvellously grumpy Two Minutes, and Moreover.

What with his lectern and shoulder bag, Colin Newman resembles more and more the image of an angry professor reading out a petition on a student demo. Which I suppose should be his role in these beleaguered times for all those who like something a little different and intelligent. Despite the band knocking out 3 (pre-planned) encores, there’s little time for just playing the chicken in a basket tour game. Like the Fall, there’s little time for dewy-eyed nostalgia. His acidic remark that “some of you are shouting for stuff we’ve just played” was comedy gold, but likely to go over most people’s heads who wouldn’t have recognised their requests in the first place. Similarly there was no 12 XU but what the hell? As ever watching Wire was an education.