Never too old

There’s all kinds of words in foreign languages that don’t have an exact equivalent when translated into English. When hearing of a new recording by a band from one’s youth, it seems like there should be a word to describe the feeling of “Wow, I can’t believe they’re still around, and they still sound pretty good!” , while at the same time also feeling “Hey, how did I get to be so old?”. Which is how I felt when I came across this video from the band Wire. It’s a live performance from a few months ago recorded at the studio of Seattle radio station KEXP.

Wire has been recording off and on since about 1977. They seem to get together every few years, have a burst of creativity where they record a few albums over a span of three or four years, and then go on a long hiatus that can last for six or seven years. During their time off from the band each member has recorded their own solo material as well as collaborating with a number of experimental musicians. I’ve been following them since I was young New Wave rock music fan way back in 1979, when a clerk at a used record shop thrust one of their records into my hands as we were discussing various avant garde bands. I’m sure I thought I was the coolest kid in school since no one else had heard of this band at my school. Being a self involved 14 year old, my musical snobbery was at its height!

I’ve seen them a few times over the years when they appeared in the Boston area. Four or five times over the past 25 years. Most memorably about 12 years ago. I had just arrived home from work, and had started to prepare for a very important client meeting the next morning. I put on the radio and the announcer had started to read the upcoming live shows in the area. I was barely paying attention, just having the radio on as background while I slaved away trying to get ready for the big meeting, when I heard ‘… and Wire will be appearing tonight in Cambridge..” Wait, wait, what was that ? I called up the venue, and yes, they were there tonight, tickets were still available but were selling fast. Hmmm…. what to do, what to do…. Cambridge is about 50 miles away from me, the concert starts at 11:00pm, probably gets over at 1:00am, I’ll probably be home by about 2:00 am, maybe even 3:00 am, and my meeting starts at 9:00 am tomorrow morning. I should really get ready for this meeting. After all, it is a $3 Million dollar account. But then again, it is Wire. They might not be coming back for another seven or eight years.

I thought about it for a few minutes, and then jumped in the car and drove the 50 miles to Cambridge.

I remember the concert very clearly. Just about everyone in the crowd was my age or older! Wire is a notoriously taciturn and dour group of guys, yet they seemed genuinely pleased with the enthusiastic response from us geriatric music fans.

Thankfully the meeting the next day went well, despite my having had about four hours sleep, and we signed the client to a long term contract!

I think I’ve only been to one other Rock concert since then. My bed time tends to be within an hour or so after Mr. C goes to sleep, maybe 11:00pm each night. Though if Wire does end up coming to the area again, I might have to extend my bed time for one night. If the guys from Wire can do this in their late 50’s, I can manage to do stay up late too!

If you do end up watching this video, you might notice one younger member of the band. One of their founding members, Bruce Gilbert, retired from the band a few years ago. Though at age 67, he still is working on commissions for various museums and ballet troupes in the UK.

The title of the song seems appropriate; “Blogging”.

As a comparison, here they are back in 1979!

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9 thoughts on “Never too old

    • Seems as though they have strong ties to Seattle. They were at KEXP to promote a music festival they were sponsoring, and the photo on the cover of their latest CD is of the ‘Red Hallway’ in the Seattle Central Library.

      Now that we have a wifi radio I’m listening to KEXP all the time!

  1. Wire are just incredible and it amazes me that they still cut it and produce great music – so many bands from that era don’t!

    • Their long breaks must help to make sure they don’t drive each other crazy! They also self release their music now so they have complete creative control. I’m always impressed when a musician also has the ability to run their own business affairs like that, it seems like completely separate skills.

    • They played at ‘The Middle East’ a few times. WFNX played them a lot in the mid 80’s, probably ‘Ahead’ or ‘Drill’ are their best known songs from that time. I saw surprised to see them on Jimmy Kimmel a few months ago too!

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