After the applauded release of Wires 12th album, Red Barked Tree, the English post-punk legends embarked on an expansive tour, the most extravagant of their 35-year career. They visited a number of uncharted cities, then they went ahead and played England twice, which seems to come but every three decades. The touring made them a tight band, and its apparent here; they have no problem adhering to the rigid structures of much of their music. As far as the energy level goes, theres no true breaking point, in fact, theyre less punk than their past hints at, but theyve refined their playing with plenty of accomplished intensity.
Recorded at Radio Frances Paris studio in May 2011, The Black Session is a chance for diehards to relive Wires last stop through town and, for others, an opportunity to catch up on what they missed. About half of the set is taken from Red Barked Tree. Smash, off that effort, is particularly catching in its immediacy, especially as it appears right after the driving riffs of Comet, a track from 2003s Send. The paranoia and detachment are in full force on both. Meanwhile, older favorites like Drill, Kidney Bingos, Map Ref 41°N 93°W, and Two People in a Room are rife with incessant tension and that angular appeal that Wire have perfected. An encore in the form of Pink Flag stretches out to a satisfyingly noisy 10 minutes.
Some of the finer details might be lost on the live presentation, but its nothing to cry about when you consider that youre hearing Wire in their natural habitat.
Essential Tracks: Comet, Smash, and Drill