Acts like Swans come few and far between. Since reforming in 2010 they achieved the unexpected and managed to produce, and perform, music which rivaled that of any modern peer. Almost unique in their ability to remain reflexive, innovative and sincerely driven, it’s little surprise that they are unique in their live shows.
Neither time, confidence, or even audience approval, appeared as any sort of issue when playing Rescue Rooms. The show commenced with Thor Harris walking on stage and beginning to rumble on the gong. Blink and you would have mistaken him for a sound technician. Continuing for the length of time you would expect from Swans, the band slowly took to the stage, member by member.
It could easily be a fly on the wall documentary on the band recording…
The band come across as artists completely absorbed in what they want to achieve. Their faces when performing are not melodramatic looks of stage showman, they appear more like artists fully absorbed in trying to produce the music they have in mind. It could easily be a fly on the wall documentary on the band recording. Yet it’s the seeming lack of effort they put in to ‘putting on a show’ which makes the show so good. Regardless of how many times they’ve performed, you can’t help but feel you’re seeing something exclusive.
Like the cliche of a musical genius, spontaneous ideas seem to occur to Gira mid-show. When he walked over to Christopher Pravdica all the audience could hear other than mumbling was the vague reply of ‘oh, like a wall of bass?’. Shortly followed by an intense introduction of repetitive bass playing from Pravdica, the concept of hearing something live, real and exclusive hits you in the face.
“In both live performances and in their career, the band have a character to not want to turn around and gaze at their success”
In both live performances and in their career, the band have a character to not want to turn around and gaze at their success; they simply aim to continue making music. Finishing on their half hour epic ‘Bring the Sun/Black Hole Man’ they end the set with both a sense of closure and confidence- no words necessary. Stimulating loud applause they step away from their instruments and walk to the front of the stage, taking bows and receiving individual applause. They then walk off stage as if having just played a rehearsal. Whether introvert artists absorbed in their work or grateful showmen set out to please, the performance is undeniably Swans.
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