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New Year's Review


By Dave Stewart

The Guardian, Jan 7th, 2000 (The Guardian is Prince Edward Island's provincial newspaper).

     While most of Prince Edward Island was bringing in the new millennium last Friday one rock group helped Islanders wind the clock back to the 1980s. Haywire, the Charlottetown rock band which sold hundreds of thousands of albums from 1986-1993, was back on stage again. It was the first time in eight years that the original five members played together on stage. Paul MacAusland, Dave Rashed, Marvin Birt, Ronnie Switzer and Sean Kilbride were back, at least one more time.

     Fans had been anticipating a reunion ever since the band split up following the release of its greatest hits compilation in 1993 (Haywire's fifth album). When the band finally took the stage just after 12:30 a.m. on Jan. 1, it appeared they were to be the first victims of the so-called Y2K bug. As an instrumental from the band's fourth album - Get Off - played over the speakers, Switzer discovered he had no sound coming from his bass. You could tell the members of the band were nervous playing for the first time in so long before the show started but technical problems just made it worse. MacAusland, the lead singer, walked to the side of the stage looking quite anxious. One of the bouncers at Myron's tried calming him down by giving him a reassuring pat on the back. The problems were ironed out after a few minutes and the band broke into Hard Reaction, one of the heavier selections from Haywire's multi-platinum second album Don't Just Stand There.

     What followed was a trip down memory lane for the band and the fans that turned out to see them. Hits like Dance Desire, Fire, Short End of a Wishbone, Get Back, Wanna Be The One, Buzz, Black and Blue and Thinkin' About the Years all began to flow out. After the opening glitch, Haywire looked as if they hadn't taken any time off at all. Band members actually looked thrilled to be up on stage, perhaps reminded of a day not so long ago when the band was the talk of Prince Edward Island and Canada. MuchMusic once dubbed Haywire as having "Canada's tightest live show ever''. It was truly like old times. There again was Birt with a lit cigarette attached to the end of his guitar and Rashed grooving to the tunes with his large frame behind the small keyboard. MacAusland was his old self, jumping around the stage like a kid in a sandbox. He still doesn't like to share his toys up there. He even hauled out his old cowboy boots, the ones he wore in the Black and Blue video. He even copied the old moves. The only way fans could sense it was 2000 and not 1987 was that MacAusland has lost all his infamous locks and gained a few pounds.

     The crowd that turned out was even a surprise - everyone from the age of 19 up to those in their 60s, all dancing away to the songs Haywire has made famous. At one point in the show the band stopped playing, drowned out by those in the audience singing along. Those who thought Haywire would play a short set were also surprised. Although the band did take a 20-minute break midway through the reunion concert, Haywire was still going strong at 3:30 a.m., two hours after the show began. It was almost fitting that one of the band's final songs of the night was their hit ballad Thinkin' About the Years. MacAusland, caught up by the lyrics and the memories, sang the song with tears in his eyes and arm around each member of the band. The band had truly come full circle.

     Now there is talk (albeit a whisper) of Haywire getting back together. A new album has been hinted at, a small tour has been mentioned. A comeback it could be, even if it were simply just a nostalgic tour - a final thank-you to the fans who have supported them through their ups and downs and continue to do so even after the music stopped playing. It's tough to say in this day and age of music whether Haywire could achieve even a hint of the success they enjoyed in the late 1980s-early 1990s, not because the talent isn't there but beause the music industry is so tough to read. And, we've all heard ad nauseum about how hard it is for a Canadian act to criss-cross the country trying to make a living while it awaits that lucrative American contract.

     But Haywire has said that if the fans wnat them back and if they feel they could make a go of it, they'll attempt a comeback. If the reaction Haywire got on New Year's Eve at Myron's was any indication, the band hasn't lost a beat. They've still got the goods. Whether it was truly a "one-time-only reunion'' was a moot point on this night, however. For one night at least, Haywire turned 'back to those familiar pages' and produced a terrific and memorable performance.

Special thanks to Dave Stewart for this early/unedited review!!