Wire | South Street Seaport | 5.30.2008

Wire_seaportMaybe I just had LOST's season finale on my mind, but Wire frontman Colin Newman looks more than a little like that show's Benjamin Linus these days. Or a college professor. Dressed in a black suit, with glasses falling off his nose, Newman nonetheless sounded the same with that punk sneer and strong London accent.

This was Wire's first NYC show in eight years. Ripping into "Our Time" from last year's excellent Read and Burn 03 EP, they pretty much announced right off the bat that a) they've still got it and b) they weren't here to trot out the hits. They never have been that type anyway. When the band reformed in 1985 after a six year break, they hired a Wire cover band (The Ex-Lion Tamers) to open for them on tour to do the songs from their first incarnation.

Tonight, however, we got Wire from every era of the group and nearly every album. Seven of the set's 16 songs were 1990 or before, sprinkled throughout the set (despite what Brooklyn Vegan commenters might have you believe), though they did save the best-known ones for the end, including "The 15th" and "12XU" (or as my friend Dorrit calls it, "Twelve Times You").  and Early in the set we The new songs from Wire's upcoming album, Object 47, sounded solid — definitely more melodic than anything else they've done this decade, the best of which was probably "One of Us" which they released as a free download last week.

Again, despite the majority of the set being new-ish material, we did also get "Being Sucked in Again" from Chairs Missing early in the set, as well as "Boiling Boy" from A Bell is a Cup Until it Is Struck, and The Ideal Copy's "Advantage in Height." My only complaint is these oldies are the same ones they played in 2001 at Irving Plaza, and it would be nice if they mixed it up a little giving us "Manequin," "I am the Fly,"  or "Drill," with maybe one or two of Graham's songs as well ("Blessed State," "Ambitious" or "The Finest Drops").

The band was in fine form, though. Watching from the side area I got a good view of drummer Robert Gotobed who is still a machine at age 57. Bassist Graham Lewis, in a knit cap that had to have been hot, did not look his age, and Margaret Fielder (of Laika and Moonshake) makes a fine replacement for Bruce Gilbert. (I've got to pull out those Laika records…) Hopefully Wire will return once the album is out, and take less than eight years to do so.

MP3: Wire – Advantage in Height

SETLIST: Our Time | Mr. Marx's Table | Comet | Being Sucked in Again | Mekon Headman | Perspex Icon | Advantage in Height | The Agfers of Kodack | All Fours | One of Us | Boiling Boy | The 15th | 106 Beats That | I Don't Understand | ENCORE: Lowdown | 12XU

More reports: Brooklyn Vegan, Stereogum, The Village Voice, Billboard, and others.

And Pat at Pop Tarts Suck Toasted shot this nice video of "Lowdown":


  1. Actually the only time I saw Wire, it was in October 2002 at Irving Plaza, so they've played in NYC more recently than that. I think they also played Bowery Ballroom the following year, but I could be wrong about that. In any case, you're lucky that you got to hear so much '70s material from them. When I saw them, it was virtually all newer stuff (from the then new Read and Burn EPs #s 1 & 2) and they only played "Reuters" and/or "Pink Flag" as part of the encore. It was still great, though, and you're right in saying that the new song "One of Us" sounds more melodic than anything else they've done recently. I wish I could've been at this show.

  2. Thanks for the set list! [By the way, you did omit the very last encore: the title track "Pink Flag".] I have to admit, I don't know many of their later songs, but they were all awesome! I must pick up those Read and Burn EPs as well as the upcoming Object 47. However, in defense of the Brooklyn Vegan comments, they did do almost NO early songs until the encore . . . and, no, I do not consider "A Bell is a Cup" to be "early" Wire. Having said that, this was an excellent write-up; nice job!
    Great show & great crowd!

  3. The show was pretty amazing and thanks for the great review. Having been a Wire fan from 1981, I have to say that I have loved everyone of their albums and side projects. Some a bit of a shock to the system when they first came out, but came to feel like the old friend that they were, albeit a bit more prickly.
    I have seen them 3 times and every time they have amazed me. The first was at the El Rey in Los Angeles, one of the many regroupings, as they have never conceded breaking up, just taking breaks. That night I experienced a brief, but powerful set of Wire, Dome, etc… songs. Radical interpretations of early Wire, as well as some of their late 80's output. I was startled and confused at first, but later it hit me like a hammer. That said, the shows that I have seen in NYC at Irving Plaza and Bowery Ballroom, have been fairly straight ahead affairs, but more angry than I expected of a band in their 50's. They have not mellowed in age and each new release and each new live show, I am filled with hope that music has not died.
    Sorry for this wistful missive, but it is what it is, a Wire fan blast.
    BTW, the band is returning for a club show in the fall. The venue slips my mind at the moment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *