On Stage: Wire rolling out new album, Silver/Lead

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By Denny Dyroff, Staff Writer, The Times


In the summer of 2015, Union Transfer 1026 Spring Garden Street, Philadelphia, 215-232-2100, www.utphilly.com) hosted a show by Wire and the British quartet rocked the house.

On September 26, Wire — Colin Newman, Graham Lewis, Robert Grey and Matthew Simms — is returning to the scene of the crime to do it again.

The show at Union Transfer will be the opening date on Wire’s 2017 fall tour in support of its new album “Silver/Lead,” which was recently released on the band’s own label, pinkflag.

“Silver/Lead” is the 15th studio album from Wire. It arrived on the 40th anniversary of their debut performance.

Wire was formed in London, England in 1976 and has been going strong ever since except for a few years off in the early 1980s and a hiatus in the 1990s.

“In terms of Wire existing and not existing, we’ve never officially broken up,” said Newman, during a recent phone interview from his home in Brighton, England.

“In 1999, there was a pause when Bruce (guitarist Bruce Gilbert) left. But, we’ve been at it pretty consistently since 1997.

“Our last four records have had crazy scheduling. We thought we had reached a three-year cycle. Then, we realized it was our 40th anniversary so we made ‘Silver/Lead.’.

“It didn’t follow the pattern. But, change become us. It was supposed to be a project and it became a proper Wire album. In typical Wire fashion, we had a lot of extra recorded songs from our self-titled album.”

Wire are one of the world’s most ground-breaking bands with its influence acknowledged by bands as diverse as Blur, Sonic Youth, R.E.M. and Savages.

But the band has never been interested in exploiting past glories. For Wire, there is only ever one possible direction – forward.

Although the new disc is being released on the band’s 40th anniversary, “Silver/Lead” is an album which has nothing to do with the past and everything to do with the here and now.

“The thing about how Wire records are made is that they are about catching the moment,” said Newman. “The Wire thing is never about the past. It’s always about the present and the future.

“The decision to make a new album is mine. I’m the record company and I tend to think about what kind of cycles we’re operating on — when and how to release records.

“We recorded our last four albums at Rockfield Studios in Wales. It’s a great studio where you live while doing the recording. Usually, a week is the longest we stay.

“We did the last one in two sessions and the second was a week and three days. When the recording is done, I take the hard disc, bring it to my studio and add to it.

“The way I tend to write — I’ll start writing six months before we go into the studio. I don’t write songs when I don’t have to. I don’t touch the guitar when I’m not using it. I don’t sit around writing songs. When it’s time to make a record, we know it.

“In the period between finishing an album and releasing it, time gets very compressed. You have to plan it all beforehand. The touring period has to be planned well ahead. We talked about it a year ago.”

Even though Wire is now entering its fifth decade, it is neither an oldies band, a classic rock group or retro.

“We do see ourselves as a contemporary band,” said Newman. “It’s very important to us. This is what we are.”

Video link for Wire —https://youtu.be/yfiurED57iw.

The Wire show on September 26 will begin at 8 p.m. with opener Noveller. Tickets are $23.

Wire may be a really old British band but an even older band from the U.K. will be performing in the area this week.

Wishbone Ash

On September 27, the Sellersville Theater (24 West Temple Avenue, Sellersville, 215-257-5808, www.st94.com) will present a show featuring Wishbone Ash.

Wishbone Ash has been around seven years longer than Wire.

The band’s eponymous debut album was released in 1970.

Since then, Wishbone Ash has released albums on a regular basis and the total now 24 studio albums, 12 live albums, 10 compilation albums and 20 singles. The most recent was “Blue Horizon” in 2014.

Wishbone Ash, one of the most influential guitar bands in the history of rock, has returned to America this month with the “Road Warriors North American Tour.”

Once again, fans will be able to enjoy live performances of the group’s signature twin-guitar mastery and powerhouse rhythm section as the band present classics spanning its career and showcasing selections from “Blue Horizon.”

True road warriors, each year Wishbone Ash logs around 30,000 miles — roughly equivalent to circumnavigating the earth. performances in South Africa.

The current Wishbone Ash line-up features Andy Powell, guitar, vocals (1969–present), Bob Skeat, bass, vocals (1997–present), Joe Crabtree, drums (2007–present) and Mark Abrahams, guitar (2017–present).

“We have a new guitar plater – Mark Abrahams,” said Powell, during a phone interview last week from a tour stop in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

“We’re playing theaters and clubs on this tour so it will be a good way to break him in. He’s been with us five months but only 30 shows. This tour will give him 50 shows in the next six months. We wanted to give him a full palette of music so he can get into what the Wishbone Ash sound is. By the end of this tour, he’ll be tested.

“The rest of the guys have been around for a while. Our drummer Joe has been in the band for 11-12 years and Bob, our bassist, has been with me for 20 years. It’s a great rhythm section. We all get along really well.”

This tour is billed as the 2017 “Tough & Tender” Tour. In addition to the high-powered, all-out rockers Wishbone Ash the band is known for delivering, the band will turn down the volume (but not the intensity) and treat audiences to acoustic versions of some of their classic hits.

According to Powell, “A great song is a great song — however it’s delivered. Playing acoustically allows people to hear the ‘bones’ of a song and how it might have been conceived in the first place.”

Playing theaters and clubs also suits Wishbone Ash’s audience – many of whom have been following the band for decades.

“Our audiences are not leaping around anymore,” said Powell. “This show has good dynamics. A good song can be interpreted different ways – electric or acoustic.

“After 48 years, the band has such a huge catalogue. Going through the catalogue, we have enough material that we can play a different set from night to night.

“It’s going to be stimulating for us too. We’re always open to pulling out a few additional songs from the past. It’s good to mix it up. But, whether it’s electric or acoustic, we still rock.”

Video link for Wishbone Ash – https://youtu.be/Irou5W1gEq8.

The show in Sellersville will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $29.50 and $45.

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