Wire | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Two years ago the reconstituted Wire faced American audiences for the first time in a decade, and those faces stared back with a mixture of worship and trepidation: would these raving iconoclasts still be capable of generating revelations, or would they turn out to be another human jukebox dispensing desiccated memories for quarters? (While not all reunion tours are automatically artistically doomed, I've got to say that the refusal of the surviving three-quarters of Led Zeppelin to stage one is looking nobler and nobler all the time.) The answer was, well, neither: they did at least manage to play the old songs as if they were rediscovering their own power, and that was a great relief, if not quite a visionary experience. The revelation is what they're doing now: having confirmed that not everything about savage rock is moribund, they're plotting a six-pack of quick-and-dirty EPs called the "Read & Burn" series. Read & Burn 01, released recently, is hair-raising in its vicious and scrappy virtuosity, with a pounding industrial electricity and punk's keen sense of when enough's enough. Read & Burn 02 will be available only this tour and via Wire's Web site, pinkflag.com (where it purportedly comes with a special bonus gift, "a sample of a Wire-designed fragrance, 'the smell of YOU'"). It's the first fusion of all the ghosts of Wires past that sounds truly harmonious in its clangorous noise: it's got a pop grace that harks back to the infectious end of their punk phase, an icy danceability echoing their stern mid-80s Europop period, and a relentless mechanical force that recalls the rigorous violence of their permutations on the Drill theme. It's enough to make you (more) skeptical of any social-astrological attempts to bind music to generations--great rock 'n' roll does more to define its time than its time does to define it. I'd gladly trade a bushel of contemporary young bands for another dose of this. Saturday, September 14, 10 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 773-549-0203.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Fergus Kelly.

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