Wire released Silver/Lead, the band’s 16th studio album via their own Pinkflag label in March, and they return for a North American tour in September. Colin Newman and company perform at Black Cat in DC on Monday, Sept. 25!
The guitars start out with a low, repetitive drone and then they break out into a trot.
A pleasant English voice begins to sing matter of factly alongside the guitars. The lyrics are conceptual not narrative. And as the song continues, the guitars hit peaks and valleys while the singer remains steadfastly laconic and sardonic.
This is Wire, and they have opened their concert Saturday night at the Black Cat with “Blogging,” the first track from their 14th album, the self-titled Wire, released in April. The band proves in this case to be much like many of their individual songs in that the more you get into it, and the more you think about it, the more it has to offer.
The London quartet, of course, practically invented post-punk upon forming in 1976, but they have not sat still, particularly since reforming after a break in the 1990s. Vocalist and guitarist Colin Newman is interested in what’s new. He likes to tinker and to move the dial forward, even if doing so within the predefined confines of the post-punk genre. I never previously saw a performer quite like him, and I immediately thought to myself that Colin is to the guitar what a Billy Currie or a Thomas Dolby is to the synthesizer.
No one in Wire plays a synthesizer, of course. But the sound they make — that beautiful sound!– nonetheless somehow encompasses the space age and the immediate. Somewhere, both contemporaries in the Buzzcocks and new kids in Prinzhorn Dance School are taking notes.
Legendary U.K. quartet Wire recently released their 13th studio album, the self-titled Wire, on April 13, and they start a U.S. tour in support of it on May 26 in Portland, Ore.
They perform locally at the Black Cat on Saturday, June 6.
Formed in 1976, Wire gained a new guitarist in the form of Matt Simms, who replaced founding guitarist Bruce Gilbert in 2012. The reinvigorated band have leapt into the studio and the road, regularly releasing and performing material that reminds audiences worldwide that they practically invented post-punk.
In March, Wire released a single, “Split Your Ends,” showcasing the self-titled record’s heavier side.
“Split Your Ends” was written when singer/guitarist Colin Newman asked bassist/vocalist Graham Lewis to send over some unfinished, unformatted text so he wouldn’t be bound by what to use for the chorus. The stuff that Graham sent formed the lyrics of two songs on the new album: “Split Your Ends” and “In Manchester.”
Listen to “Split Your Ends” on YouTube:
Colin sometimes introduced tracks to the rest of the band right before they entered the studio in order to spur spontaneity. The vocalist said in a press release that he is going to continue to press Wire to release new material instead of resting on their laurels and playing the band’s best-known gems at flashback festivals.
“The point where our personal narratives meet is all about change – moving on and keeping it interesting for ourselves,” he said. “We’re in it for the long haul and this is a one-way trip.”
Critics seem to agree that the trip is worthwhile, as the album Wire has garnered “generally favorable reviews” as aggregated by Metacritic.
“The album borders on monochromatic at times (possibly because there are no songs by Graham Lewis, who provided some of Red Barked Tree and Change Becomes Us’ finest tracks), yet its subtle subversions are thoroughly Wire, and thoroughly befitting the band at this stage in its career,” said All-Music Guide, rating the album four out of five stars.
Tickets are available online and at the Black Cat.