Posted in music | pictures on July 17, 2013

Photos by Greg Cristman; words by Bill Pearis

Wire @ Bowery Ballroom, 7/16/2013

With a genuinely terrific new album to work from, legendary art-punks Wire brought their tour to Bowery Ballroom last night (8/17). While the sold-out show was heavy with songs from Change Becomes Us, their set had a nice number of classic cuts too, including "Map Ref 41°N 93°W," "Boiling Boy," "Pink Flag" and their dugga-dugga-dugga-ing 1986 single "Drill." Setlist is below.

While Brooklyn's Bear in Heaven may not seem the most obvious tour match, their waves of synths sound isn't miles away from Wire's mid-to-late '80s output. Photos from both bands are in this post.

More below...


SETLIST: Wire @ Bowery Ballroom, 7/16/2013
Doubles & Trebles
Re-Invent Your Second Wheel
Blogging Like Jesus
Magic Bullet
Adore Your Island
As We Go
Another The Letter
Love Bends
Flying Dutch
Map Ref 41°N 93°W
Stealth of a Stork
Attractive Space
Boiling Boy


Encore 2:
Down to This
Pink Flag



Comments (40)

Did Bear In Heaven get a new drummer? Also, who is the young hired hand second guitarist in Wire these days.

Posted by Anonymous | July 17, 2013 6:18 PM

Bear in Heaven are a band desperately in search of a sound & probably one of the most annoying opening bands that I've seen recently. They are so in love with themselves & try to be so cool that they annoyed me immensely.
Wire, on the other hand, were amazing & in top form last night.

Posted by Anonymous | July 17, 2013 6:52 PM

More like Douchelords In Heaven.

Posted by Anonymous | July 17, 2013 7:06 PM

(Richard Marx + Tears for Fears) / (Can + a forgotten 4AD comp circa 1989) = Bear in Heaven

I didn't think they were terrible. Some of the grooves were nice enough. Also, the bassist took his fashion cues from Frankie Goes to Hollywood.

One of the things that amazed me about Wire's set was that just as many of the highlights came from the last two records as from the earlier stuff.

Posted by s.m. koppelman | July 17, 2013 7:29 PM

Bear in Heaven played ok but their style, singing, songs and stage presence were horrible. Wire took awhile to get going. At first they just seemed old (I'm 54) but picked up steam as the went along. They were good but overall I thought they'd be better. I did see them back in '81. I wouldn't go see them again. As usual, The Bowery crowd mostly just stood there or took pictures and texted their friends. My how times have changed!

Posted by Anonymous | July 17, 2013 8:58 PM

I quite enjoyed Bear in Heaven, but must admit they were good not great. As an opening act for a truly great band like WIRE they were almost a side note. For $20 to see WIRE no complaints at all. In fact I thought they were excellent from start to finish. They did not "take a while to get going"- you just didn't get it. It was a fucking killer set. Do agree the crowd was (mostly) fucking comatose ( I'm 55) and it's amazing in comparison to years back when the audience would go mental at the drop of a hat. Who the fuck are these kids who go to shows these days and stand there like they've been embalmed?

Posted by Anonymous | July 17, 2013 9:20 PM

Me in Hell > Bear in Heaven

Posted by Anonymous | July 17, 2013 11:06 PM

920 Actually I did "get it". I was up front and knew every song, even the brand new ones that haven't been recorded yet. Killer set? I beg to differ. But then again you liked the opener who completely sucked. Rock for children. My friend commented on Wire after 4 or 5 songs "They sound like they left their balls home". I totally agreed. They did get better the further along they went. They were not even nearly as loud as the opening band until the encores. I'm glad I went but I thought they'd be better.

Posted by Anonymous | July 17, 2013 11:10 PM

Wire was boring and rote. I was about 5 people back from the stage edge. Lots of instagramz and tweets saying "yawn" and "where's the next fun" ... So , obviously they weren't connecting w the crowd. They need to be louder, crisper, faster .

Posted by Anonymous | July 17, 2013 11:24 PM

1124 Lots of instagramz and tweets. WHY? Is this the boring generation? That goes on at most shows these days unless it's an older crowd. I find it sad and annoying.

Posted by Anonymous | July 18, 2013 12:24 AM

The audience were a bunch of hipster corpses and Wire killed it (I'm 95), but still, they couldn't hold a candle to the time I saw Salvador Dali deliver his keynote address at the London Surrealist exhibit back in '36 while wearing a deep sea diver's helmet. The crowd just ERUPTED that night and let me tell you, no one was fucking around with Instagram or Twitter or Facebook updates!

Posted by Anonymous | July 18, 2013 12:57 AM

12:57 FTW

Posted by Anonymous | July 18, 2013 1:51 AM

Your stupidity was a feeble attempt at comedy.

Posted by Anonymous | July 18, 2013 4:06 AM

lol 12:57

Posted by Anonymous | July 18, 2013 8:45 AM

11: 10 Sorry to hear you have early stage dementia and the synapses aren't clicking the way they used to. The venue is called the Bowery Ballroom, as it says on the ticket. You and your friend obviously wandered into the Bowery Mission, the homeless shelter.

As I said WIRE killed it:

Rave reviews on CMJ/ Village Voice/ The House List

Posted by Anonymous | July 18, 2013 9:52 AM

9:20 is totally right about the embalmed part. WTF kids?! Wake up and enjoy the moment!

Posted by Anonymous | July 18, 2013 10:27 AM

"early stage dementia" Some of us just expect more from this great post-punk band. I would not trust the opinion of anyone who thought Bear In Heaven were even listenable. I've seen Wire many times and they definitely did not "kill it" at this show. Just the fact that you would use that term says all I need to know about you. They were good especially at the end but a lot of people that I talked to after the show were kind of disappointed. Just look at the crowd reaction. Also I wouldn't put much stock into those reviews especially The House List. I have listened a couple of times to a recording of the show which bears out my initial opinions on the show.

Posted by Anonymous | July 18, 2013 11:24 AM


It's not just my opinion: WIRE has been getting rave reviews all over the world for their new record and current tour. They were good at the beginning, too. Basically the show didn't resonate with you, you didn't get it, and it says a lot about your taste and lack thereof.

Posted by Anonymous | July 18, 2013 12:21 PM

1221 You are an idiot. I guess a majority of the crowd didn't get it either. The record is great. The show was good. It wasn't loud enough and lacked energy at the beginning. I was expecting the entire show to be like the last half hour or so. As for reviews of other shows who cares? As I said, I talked to a few people that I did not even know outside after the show that had the same experience as I did. Also it did not help that where I was for the 1st few songs people were talking so loud I could barely hear them. At that point I moved up front. Go enjoy your Bear In Heaven cd!

Posted by Anonymous | July 18, 2013 12:54 PM

^Seriously why are you arguing with a moron who backs up his claims with positive reviews from the Village Voice, CMJ and the House List. You won the argument the minute that was said.

Posted by Anonymous | July 18, 2013 1:22 PM

1221 "You are an idiot" Ha, ha, can say that again!

Bro, you're sounding a bit discombobulated. You really ought to start taking those fish oil supplements.

Posted by Anonymous | July 18, 2013 1:22 PM

I'd bet that all the people who thought that Wire were "good" & not "great" were expecting them to play a bunch of Pink Flag or 154 songs. Actually, I thought it was refreshing that they didn't pander to the crowd like most reunion acts do.
As for Bear in Heaven, they should stick to playing parties for their friends in Williamsburg. They had no stage presence, they couldn't play, &, basically, the drummer was carrying the whole band on his shoulders. Oh, & the bassist looked like a total douche. I was bored to tears listening to the one song that they played over & over & over again.

Posted by Anonymous | July 18, 2013 1:31 PM

Just because someone doesn't dance around like a dunce all night does not mean that they weren't into the show. I get tired of having my feet trampled by a bunch of drunken hipsters at shows.

Posted by Anonymous | July 18, 2013 1:33 PM

Wire we talking about this!

Posted by Anonymous | July 18, 2013 1:41 PM

133 Yeah it's much cooler to just take pictures, text your friends and carry on a conversation while the band plays. I just don't see how you can watch a band like Wire and stand totally still.

131 I knew what songs they were going to play and I knew them all, even the ones not yet recorded. I'm a longtime fan. You are correct about the pandering part and about that worthless opening band. Luckily the Bowery has the basement bar.

Posted by Anonymous | July 18, 2013 2:28 PM

anon 141 This is a music site no? I know some people just want to talk about hummus and Daft Punk!

Posted by Anonymous | July 18, 2013 2:47 PM

228 @ 133 Exactly.

131 They're not a reunion act. They taken 3 or 4 breaks over the years to do side projects but they always come back each time to produce different sounding records.

Posted by Anonymous | July 18, 2013 2:50 PM

@2:50 I used "reunion act" for lack of a better description. Let's be really honest, Wire got back together for the same reason the Pixies got back together. Point is, I think it's refreshing that they didn't pander to the crowd & play Pink Flag all the way through or something.

Posted by Anonymous | July 18, 2013 4:06 PM

Bear in Heaven blows. Boring oldster shit.

Posted by Anonymous | July 18, 2013 4:07 PM

@2:28 People enjoy music in different ways. I didn't need to bounce around, bang my head, & flail my arms all night to enjoy the show. Also, I didn't talk to the person I went with nor did I use my cellphone, I enjoyed the show from start to close. The reason I made the comment I did is because it's awfully reductive to peg everyone who didn't move to the music as a corpse.

Posted by Anonymous | July 18, 2013 4:09 PM

Actually should've said that I enjoyed Wire from beginning to end.

Posted by Anonymous | July 18, 2013 4:10 PM

CMJ review was a joke:
"The crowd was a diverse group: the older NYC punk demographic clearly there to see Wire and the younger, more honeyed audience for Bear In Heaven."
um, no, not really CMJ.

Posted by Anonymous | July 18, 2013 4:23 PM

I'm definitely in the good-not-great-show camp. Age of the material had no bearing on the strength song to song. either. Of the oldies, I thought "Pink Flag" and "Another the Letter" did more or less kill, "Drill" seemed phoned in and "Map Ref." was tight but didn't offer anything new.

Some of my favorites of the night were off the new record and Red Barked Tree.

Posted by s.m. koppelman | July 18, 2013 4:47 PM

406 I understand what you're saying but Wire really doesn't have a greatest hits back catalogue and if one only knows about the first 3 albums then they don't know much about Wire. I think what you are trying to say is that some in the audience were expecting a "Send" era rock show. ( what Colin calls noisy fuck-off rock).

423 Good commentary except CMJ got the encore sequence wrong, but still in essence a very positive review.

447 Nothing was phoned in. Drill was purposely detached in a deadpan English sort of way. I thought Map Ref sounded just fine. Wasn't crazy about Down to This (from RBT) , but loved the new stuff. Spent was insane.

Posted by Anonymous | July 18, 2013 6:33 PM

A pretty decent recording over at DIME:

Posted by Anonymous | July 19, 2013 2:01 AM

Bore in Heaven

Posted by Anonymous | July 19, 2013 8:09 AM

And this from Fridays Pitchfork Fest in Chicago:

Greg Knot-

6:50 p.m.:" The race is on. Spurred by two drumsticks furiously clicked together, Wire chases imaginary prey with pulse-quickening rhythms, industrial interjections and serrated guitar riffs. Able to turn on a dime, the long-running English veterans move from nimble, flexible maneuvers to producing tornadoes of thick noise that strive to obliterate anything in their way. The set doubles as a lesson to many of the younger artists that have played the festival in years past as well as those that will in the coming days: This, kids, is how it should be done. Wire outlays an incredibly diverse array of music, tones and textures, all carefully considered and played with utmost precision. The band manages to also achieve the seemingly impossible: Make their instruments and vocals actually sound good in an open setting renowned for poor balances and weak amplification. Vocalist/guitarist Colin Newman looks at each song like a math professor analyzes a complex equation. Tremendous focus, creative purpose and fact-of-the-matter diligence define even his snarls and yelps. Art-punk dance twists, trash-compactor gurgling and processed effects loom in the foreground. Wire emerges as subversive anti-authoritarians, their moodiness and structures adhering to the same modernist architecture."

Posted by Anonymous | July 20, 2013 11:20 AM

I think this may very well be the most underrated punk album. Just brilliant.

Posted by Brecken | May 19, 2014 6:25 AM

It's 6 am here in England now. I'm 17 minutes into this now. It'll be at least an hour till i eventually get to kip. I was very tired, and then i discovered this. I'm wide a-fuckin'-wake now, and i'm lovin' it! ;)

Posted by Lancaster | October 9, 2014 11:05 AM

It's not just my opinion: WIRE has been getting rave reviews all over the world for their new record and current tour. They were good at the beginning, too. Basically the show didn't resonate with you, you didn't get it, and it says a lot about your taste and lack thereof.

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