For 20 years, The Black
Sessions have become a staple at the vanguard of European rock radio–the
French equivalent to the late, great John Peel’s legendary program on the BBC.
Since 1992, the Radio France broadcast, named after its host Bernard Lenoir and
played before a live audience, has played host to a number of prolific artists,
including The Cure, Pavement, Radiohead, Ride, Belle & Sebastian, Weezer,
Morphine, Nick Cave and Lloyd Cole to name a few.
But perhaps the noteworthy
Black Session performance in immediate memory is the fiery appearance by UK post-punk
icons Wire on May 10, 2011, a show that the band has made available as their
15th live album. It is also the first one for this latest lineup of the
quartet, which presently consists of original members frontman/guitarist Colin
Newman, bassist Graham Lewis and drummer Robert Grey (nee Gotobed) and new
guitarist Matt Simms, replacing and original axe and experimental rock hero
The focus of this particular
set rests primarily on material from Wire’s most recent studio effort, the
brilliant Red Barked Tree, which hit the streets five months to the day
prior to this Black Session concert. Seven of that record’s eleven tracks are
given fiery live makeovers over the course of this performance, namely
“Clay”, “Moreover” and the title cut, which is expanded to
a shimmering, near-eight minute workout. However, Wire purists looking to hear
modern versions of their favorite college radio staples from the group can
relish in storming spins on such vintage tracks as “Two People in a
Room” and “Map
Ref. 41°N 93°W” from 1979’s 154 and an epic 11-minute
deconstruction of “Pink Flag” that closes out the broadcast.
Like 1981’s Document and
Eyewitness and 1989’s It’s Beginning To And Back Again before it, The
Black Session is a fitting testament to the current state of one of the
English underground’s most unshakable acts.
DOWNLOAD: “Moreover”, “Red Barked Tree”,
“Two People in a Room”, “Pink Flag” RON HART