13 Apr 2011 at Neumos
Most Wire fans agree that their first three albums are excellent recordings that still sound as vibrant and challenging today as they were upon their initial release approximately thirty years ago.
Pink Flag, Chairs Missing and 154 are all timeless classics in their own right and each successive LP was vastly different from the previous one, making them that much more impressive. Interestingly, Wire fans tend to have wildly fluctuating opinions about their subsequent output. Personally, I quite like the 1980s albums too, but have not exposed myself nor been exposed to any of their records after that period. On Wednesday evening, Wire took the stage at Neumos and offered a retrospective of their entire career, which provided the audience with a sampling of each decade’s evolution through music.
The last time that the group came to Seattle, the set was centered around harder rocking tracks. This time around, Wire focused on the more experimental side of their material, which was much more satiating as they are perhaps the quintessential art rock band. Red Barked Tree, the band’s newest offering, was featured heavily in the set as were several songs from the underrated 1980s albums, The Ideal Copy and A Bell is a Cup Until it is Struck.
Wire is currently a three-piece consisting of Colin Newman (vocals, guitar), Graham Lewis (bass, vocals) and Robert Grey (drums) as their other original member, guitarist Bruce Gilbert, left the group in 2005. The band does have a second touring guitarist, but only the three original members performed on the newest studio LP.
They did not set foot onto the stage until after 11:00 p.m., which seemed a bit late for a weeknight, but the group was as tight as could be. Wire churned out a solid performance from start to finish, and the new songs from Red Barked Tree blended in quite well with the familiar tracks. Of these, two opuses from the stunning 154 album were performed, the poppy, Low-esque "Map Ref. 41°N 93°W," and the incendiary "Two People in a Room." Newman was playing a rare National guitar through his vortex of pedals and the instrument sounded wonderful.
Other highlights were A Bell is a Cup's trance inducing "Boiling Boy" and The Ideal Copy's centerpiece "Drill." Of the new tracks, the song "Red Barked Trees" closed the main set and this composition was just as good as any of the classics. The band waited until the very last song of the evening to delight the hardcore fans with "Pink Flag." The song selection alone was enough evidence to reveal that Wire is one of those legendary bands who have influenced hundreds of others throughout the years. It is easy to see why as they uniquely blend pop, rock and experimentation into their music while remaining difficult for imitators to copy.
Advantage in Height
Silk Skin Paws
Map Ref. 41°N 93°W
Bad Worn Thing
Two People in a Room
106 Beats That
Red Barked Trees
Down to This
Photo by: Amy Bernard