In some ways this is a story that countless bands go through. Four guys trying to be true to their individual instincts while also trying to function as a unit. They had art school backgrounds and were keen to experiment, but they could also write a decent tune and might have dented the charts if only they could agree on a common direction. But there was always something difficult about Wire. They had attitude, they didn't play by the rules, do encores or play old material. They fought. They split up three times. The drummer (ousted by technology) left in the 90s and came back again. The guitarist left in 2004 and remains estranged They were useless at business. But somehow Wire remain. And amazingly they're stronger than ever.
Live they could be amazing. I first saw them in '85, at Oxford Museum of Modern Art - their first comeback gig - and again many times in the late 80s (usually great), early 90s (usually bad), once in 2000 (almost unlistenable) and the last time in 2004 in Tokyo, which turned out to be one of Bruce Gilbert's last shows. By then, ironically, they'd returned to their punchy best and even started playing older songs - but not to the detriment of the new. The three remaining members, Newman, Lewis and Grey, are all bordering 60 and yet they create with the abandon of twentysomethings. The new album is titled Change Becomes Us. Say no more.