"The Wake: Live at the Hacienda 07.1983+01.1984"

Another archival DVD package from LTM, unofficial torchbearers for the marginal artists on the Factory Records roster, this one collects two performances by Glawswegians The Wake.


The band has not benefited very much from the critical hindsight and revival of interest in early 1980s post-punk, most likely because they were always a pretty dull proposition. It's frankly not surprising that among the band's early lineup was one Bobby Gillespie, later of bandwagon-jumpers Jesus and Mary Chain and Primal Scream, as The Wake seemed similarly derivative, with a sound perfectly pitched dead-center between Joy Division and Durutti Column. Their early stuff was dour, down-key and depressing, and their later stuff was increasingly more lightweight and pleasant, though still quite a trudge.

The two Hacienda shows on this DVD finds the band somewhere in between these two phases, playing melancholic, downbeat rock music that is equalized with sparkling, ambient washes of synthesizer and jangling acoustic guitar. If New Order and Vini Reilly hadn't ever existed, The Wake might have seemed a lot more interesting. As it is, even with the benefit of all the borrowed nostalgia from 24 Hour Party People and other documents of the Manchester scene, The Wake seem boring and a bit pretentious. Their stage manner is in the classic mold of moody, listless shoegazing, with backs to the audience and no attempt to engage anyone in their music. The pretension comes from their tiresome references to James Joyce's Finnegan's Wake in songs like "Here Comes Everybody," even though their music shares none of the playfulness, lyricism or ingenuity of Joyce's work.

For fans of the band, I can happily report that the digitally remastered video of these two shows is of impressive quality, and the sound is not too bad either. In addition to the two shows, LTM also includes an excruciatingly cheesy, low-rent promo clip for the non-hit single "Talk About the Past." I suppose it is still a bit of a thrill to see these vintage shows at the legendary, now-extinct Hacienda club, I only wish I was watching a better band than The Wake.