There is an energy that runs through Wire’s sold out show at Jazzhouse that creates a vibrancy you can feel as though it were tangible. It’s not just the energy of a group that have been playing together for nearly 40 years and have an intuitive dynamic, or an adrenaline shot from a decades-younger member, or the exuberance of a crowd with an equally diverse age range who stumbled in from the good cheer of Kulturnatten. It’s the emphasis on the new that makes Wire, whose original members are all past 60, feel as vital as ever.
Thought not totally immune to nostalgia, Wire have been more forward looking than many of their contemporaries. They are not the only band of the post-punk era to continue to produce work, but they have continued to create at pace beyond most of their contemporaries, and they have continued to emphasize their new work over their old. They don’t really care how many times people call for “1 2 X U,” they’re not playing it (the contribution from Pink Flag to the set is “Brazil”).
While there is an obvious common thread through their work, through the set you can see as well as hear how Wire’s songs have evolved from album to album. Watching their second guitarist Matt Simms hunch over his pedal board without his guitar, pressing buttons and turning knobs and creating multi-dimensional swells of noise behind the more utilitarian structures of the rest of the band. From a technical perspective, the sole criticism is that there were times when Colin Newman’s vocals were too low.
Rock music doesn’t make you fear death, it makes you fear aging, becoming irrelevant and simply too old to keep up with the younger generation. It can make you feel that way by the time you’re 25 if you only ever look back to what you loved as a teenager. But if the bands you loved as a teenager, and the bands you love who made great records before you were even born continue to make great music, why should any of us worry about getting old? If I must age, let me age like Wire.