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Concert Reviews:
Wire makes up for 25 years away from Detroit at MOCAD show
 

By GARY GRAFF
@graffonmusic, Facebook.com/Gary Graff on Music

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DETROIT -- Taking the stage Tuesday night, July 9, at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD), Wire bassist Graham Lewis acknowledged the 25-year interim since the British group's last visit to Detroit.

"It seems to me you must have the secret of eternal youth," Lewis declared to the sold-out crowd. And the same could be said of his band.

Oh, some ravages of time were evident on Wednesday -- less hair and more paunch in the crowd for sure, though Wire's bespectacled frontman Colin Newman appeared relatively ageless. But as Wire morphed the airy "Marooned" into the piledriving "Drill," it was clear the years had not robbed the punk rock veterans of any of their high-precision bite over the course of 19 songs and 90 minutes in a sweltering, warehouse-like MOCAD gallery that recalled Wire's previous summer stop at Saint Andrews Hall.

The group's primary focus on Wednesday was its latest release, "Change Becomes Us," which itself recreates material that was initially intended for the group's fourth album circa 1980 and wound up on the 1981 live set "Document and Eyewitness." Songs such as "Doubles and Trebles," "Reinvent Your Wheel," "Magic Bullet," "Love Bends," "Stealth of a Stork" and others boasted all the inventive dynamic nuances of vintage Wire, while the group -- bolstered by southpaw guitarist Matthew Simms, a recent addition -- also dipped into its 36-year catalog for favorites such as "Map Ref.," "Boiling Boy" and "Smash."

Nor was the show just about the past; Wire used the opportunity to debut a pair of brand new songs, "Blogging For Jesus" and "Flying Dutchman," the latter of which the group wrote during rehearsals the previous day.

The night's only glitch was a pre-encore verbal altercation with a group of fans chanting for a song Wire clearly had no interest in playing -- and said so in no uncertain terms. But that seemed to give the group a bit of extra fury to propel the high-octane likes of "Comet," "Two People in a Room," "Spent" and "Pink Flag."

The exposition was more than worth the wait, and if Wire never trips through these parts again it certainly left an indelible memory for those in the room.

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