Opening Up

When Who's on First Is What Matters

WIRE
September 18
Irving Plaza, 17 Irving Place, 777-6800
Once upon a time, Wire was so dismissive of their punk-rock past that they retained a tribute band to recreate Pink Flag in its entirety. Well, since it's an artiste's prerogative to change his mind, the boys in the band have set the way-back machine for their spikiest era, not so much duplicating the sound of 12XU et al., but pouring that spirit into freshly minted vessels that go from low glow to flaming red in nothing flat. (Sprague)

BRIGHT EYES
September 19
Maxwell's, 1039 Washington Street, Hoboken, New Jersey, 201-653-1703
Bright Eyes is Nebraskan Conor Oberst, an underground version of Dashboard Confessional's Chris Carraba. Both emote feverishly while strumming furiously, but where Dashboard frequently verges on anthemic, Bright Eyes lists toward anemic. Still, Chris's trim rockabilly 'do can't compare to Conor's long, dark bangs. Who needs melodies when there are panties to soak and broken hearts to indulge? (Catucci)

MEKONS
September 20
Maxwell's, 1039 Washington Street, Hoboken, New Jersey, 201-653-1703
It's been 25 years, so do the math—if they were the Rolling Stones, they'd be recording Steel Wheels. Not many bands get that far, and fewer still retain much honor in the process. In their intermittently distracted way, the Mekons have turned a collegiate experiment in art as politics into a lifework that takes into account all the disappointments of art and politics but refuses to capitulate. Bitter—of course. Depressed—not so's it gets them down. Defeated—only by death. (Christgau)

Sweet somethings: Glass Candy and the Shattered Theatre's Ida No and John David V (left).
photo: Virgil Porter
Sweet somethings: Glass Candy and the Shattered Theatre's Ida No and John David V (left).

'MUSIC AROUND THE MEDITERRANEAN'
September 20-22
Bohemian Hall, 29-19 24th Avenue, Queens, 718-274-4925
This ambitious three-day festival hosted by the World Music Institute is as recommendable for its charming venue, the city's last traditional beer garden, as for its lineup. It kicks off Friday with the Giglio Italian brass band followed by Radio Tarifa's hybrid of flamenco and North African styles. Saturday's day-long lineup features 73-year-old Turkish Gypsy violinist Kemani Çemal, Albanian vocalist Merita Halili, and an evening dance party with the Boban Markoviç Orchestra, a Gypsy brass band. Sunday concludes with Palestinian oud virtuoso Simon Shaheen, Algerian singer Zakia Kara Terki, and Syrian vocalist Sheikh Hamza Shakkur. (Gehr)

PERE UBU
September 24
Warsaw, 261 Driggs Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-387-5252
The heart of darkness peeks through the wings of whimsy more often than not on this venerable Cleveland band's new St. Arkansas album, which bodes well for the potential intensity level here. Although secret-weapon guitarist Jim Jones continues to eschew touring, the Cuyahoga-freighter squall conjured up by synth-wielder Robert Wheeler—and, of course, the inimitable meanderings of David Thomas—will more than compensate. (Sprague)

NEKO CASE
September 29
Bowery Ballroom, 6 Delancey Street, 533-2111
If anyone's gonna create a post-millennial version of "Long Black Veil," it'll probably be this nomadic singer-songwriter. She's gifted with an uncommonly discomfiting voice, a fine-tuned ear for country music's essence, and, perhaps most importantly, enough smarts not to try to come across as a coal miner's daughter. Yes, Case's art-school background surfaces now and again, but her tales of stalkers, plane wrecks, and emotional breakdown are straightforward enough that Mother Maybelle would certainly understand. (Sprague)

ROLLING STONES +PRETENDERS
September 26
Madison Square Garden, 31st Street and Seventh Avenue, 465-6741
September 30
Roseland, 239 West 42nd Street, 247-0200
The chemistry between Jagger and Richards hasn't changed a whit, judging by the guitarist's recent capsule review of Sir Mick's recent solo album—which he referred to as "Dogshit in the Doorway." So even though the Stones' dog-and-pony show has seen better days, there's still a decent chance that sparks will fly when they hit the road for this, their first farewell tour—as long as they steer clear of material concocted in the past decade-and-a-half. It's been almost that long since Chrissie Hynde really kicked out the jams on record, but when she slips into her stage pleather, she's every inch the goddess that Jagger aspires to be. (Sprague)

'MASTERS OF PERSIAN MUSIC'
October 5
Town Hall, 123 West 43rd Street, 307-4100
Kayhan Kalhor, a dazzling virtuoso of the kamancheh spike fiddle, may be familiar from his recent Silk Road collaborations with Yo-Yo Ma. He'll perform new Persian "art music" compositions, highly ornamented music expressing moods ranging from narcotic languor to high passion, with Iranian vocalist Mohammad Reza Shajarian, and his drumming son, Homayoun Shajarian, on tombak. (Gehr)

LOW
October 9-10
Bowery Ballroom, 6 Delancey Street, 533-2111
Low sometimes sell pillowcases as part of their tour merchandise—very telling. But that's much too obvious: They're far more complex and dynamic than those keeping them pegged as "slow-core" would have you believe. Their forthcoming Trust just may be their best record yet; intelligently balanced lullabies of noise and subtle arty pop. Boy howdy, can these kids sing, the harmonies: straight from heaven! Live, they always bring an intimacy and immediacy rare in the indie-rock gamut. (Bosler)

SALIF KEITA
October 12
New Jersey Performing Arts Center, 1 Center Street, Newark, New Jersey, 888-466-5722
October 13
Irving Plaza, 17 Irving Place, 777-6800
On a new album produced by his old boss from Les Ambassadeurs, Kante Manfila, Youssou N'Dour's chief competition as the voice of Africa doesn't exactly reconstitute his tradition, but doesn't strive for fusion either. This could be your best chance to hear him at a safe distance from the nearest synthesizer. Grab it. (Christgau)

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