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El Rey Theater, Los Angeles, USA (May 4, 2000)

I stopped by the club about 4 pm to meet the band. El Rey is a tired place, having seen better times in the Golden Years of Hollywood. I managed to speak with each one of the guys. Colin was excited about his new guitar. Graham had much to say about the new songs. "But they're old songs," I replied. "No they're new songs," he said... After hearing 40 Versions, I agree with him.

I left for dinner while the band was being interviewed for some local show. The doors opened at 8 pm. The opening act, Black Hart, started at 9 pm. They consisted of three guys (apparently the band size fluctuates between two and nine) from San Francisco (I think?), who played acoustic guitar, trombone, some sort of keyboard, and cellophane. It was interesting, if not entirely on-key.

By 10 pm the place was standing room only. After some praises by the announcer, Wire opened with Pink Flag. I hate to use this term, but it rocked. The set list was the same for all of the US shows. The audience favourites were Another the Letter and 12XU (the first encore). He Knows was met with a bit of confusion. For me the highlights were 40 Versions, which had a revamped second half, and of course Drill (the second encore), which had Graham doing a mourning ritual (as he explained to me later).

The band was very tight. Robert has a flawless internal metronome. Bruce faced away from the audience for the entire show. For the first few songs, there were various humming noises, courtesy of the soundboard techs. I thought the volume was too loud, such that the sound lost some of its clarity, but the audience seemed quite pleased with everything.

The next morning I bumped into the band at the café where I was getting breakfast. Colin and Graham discussed the highs and lows of the previous evening's performance. The conversation ended when they had to race to the airport for their flight to Seattle!

Overall I give the show an enthusiastic thumbs up. The songs spanned most of their albums. The performances were spot-on. Wire make everyone else look like amateurs.

Set list: Pink Flag, Silk Skin Paws, Boiling Boy, Lowdown, Advantage in Height, He Knows, 40 Versions, Another The Letter, Mercy.

Encores: 12XU, Drill.

Andrew Westmeyer

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