Formative post-punk band Wire has been active for nearly 40 years now, but their music was often ahead of its time, and has influenced numerous bands that have come after. Having released their self-titled 14th album back in April, the band – consisting of original members Colin Newman, Graham Lewis, and Robert Grey, along with more recent addition Matthew Simms on guitar – has proven once again that they are still capable of producing new material that stands up to anything they’ve done in the past. Thus when they came to the Black Cat on June 6th, it wasn’t the dated nostalgia trip that so many bands of their era are these days.
A band that has always preferred to look forward rather than back, the core of their 20-track set consisted of the entirety of the new album (11 songs, not in order, though every track was represented) and one song (“Wolf Boar”) so new that it had only been played live for the first time a week earlier.
Playing these along with two tracks from 2013’s Change Becomes Us (“Stealth of a Stork” and “Adore Your Island”) and one from 2008’s Object 47 (“Mekon Headman”), the band seemed to almost stubbornly avoid playing anything that might be considered a “hit.” Representing their older material were only one track each from their first three albums (“Brazil” from Pink Flag, “Used To” from Chairs Missing, and “Blessed State” from 154), and two tracks from 1988’s A Bell Is a Cup Until It Is Struck (“Boiling Boy” and “Silk Skin Paws”).
Yet whereas many bands might lose their audience by focusing so heavily on new material, the audience for Wire’s show was ready to cling onto every moment, seemingly mesmerized by the churning bass lines and often driving guitars. It may not have been entirely the show they were hoping for (occasional calls out for songs not on the setlist were ignored), but they certainly didn’t leave disappointed.
Madison, Wisconsin-based electronic musician Julian Lynch opened to show, his one-man performance with synthesizer, guitars, and vocals proving to be the perfect counter-point to Wire’s distinctive sound.
All photos by Matt Condon. Click to embiggen.