Sunday, June 1, 2008

Wire Rock the Seaport, 5.30.08

New York City's South Street Seaport is an area where you can find all sorts of things — food, shopping, and the occasional free concert. This past Friday night was no exception as post-punk legends, Wire, were on hand to kick off a series of free summer shows. And while three decades have passed since their debut album's release, the band still has what it takes to draw a crowd and play good music.

Despite the fact that singer/guitarist Colin Newman occasionally referred to a laptop, presumably to look up the setlist and some lyrics, the band really managed to stay on point throughout the night. The music was catchy and roughly abrupt, still retaining remnants of the revolutionary quality found in their earlier records. Interestingly, the band members didn't play as much early material as one might have expected. "Three Girl Rhumba" and "Mannequin" from 1977's Pink Flag, which are probably familiar even to those who don't really listen to Wire, were noticeably absent from the set.

In fact, Wire took Friday night's show as an opportunity to play material from their newest album, Object 47, which is set for a July release. The new tracks that were performed included "One of Us," "Mekon Headman," and "Perspex Icon." Even though these songs were unfamiliar, I personally felt they blended in well with the rest of the band's discography. The crowd around me, which consisted of older and younger fans, also seemed to enjoy them quite a bit.

While the band was pretty laid back for the most part, we had a chance to witness some onstage banter. Bassist Graham Lewis was the most energetic one of the bunch, interjecting the occasional sarcastic remark in between songs. And at one point, the audience was thanked for not seeing the Eagles — who were performing at Madison Square Garden that night — since they had been "the enemy" back in 1977.

The night ended with two enthusiastically-received encores, which featured "Lowdown," "12 XU," and the title track from Pink Flag. There was something electrifying about those final moments, indicating that Wire's members have not lost their edge, and making it a solid start to a summer of free music.

(You may also view this review here).


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