Words by Wes Foster.

They’re hardly your ordinary band, but when it said Swans onstage at 20.30 and curfew at 23.00, you’d hardly expect a two-and-a-half-hour show. That though, is exactly what you got.

There is something truly extraordinary about a band that can play for a constant 45 minutes and yet make it still feel like just one track. Their audience that are completely mesmerised by the six members, though it has to be said mostly gazing at the founding member, Michael Gira, taking up the centre stage. The one criticism of the entire gig is that they weren’t playing with a second drummer that creates all the more abstract and eccentric sounds as can be heard on their recordings. This time they subbed in a keyboardist instead.

Known for their deafeningly loud live performances, an entire audience was wearing ear plugs and despite this, they sounded still louder than most other bands are without. In some of the heaviest bass parts, what looked like cigarette papers which appeared to be trapped in air vents on the ceiling were routinely dishevelled, falling eventually from their perch, but riding on the crest of vibrations for a few minutes in a strangely beautiful, spontaneous occurrence which somehow fitted with the music.

You may think I haven’t described anything they played in an entire review, but there isn’t really a need to. Their music is more of a feeling, the same as their live shows. It’s loud, and it’s heavy and it’s beautiful.


The gig took place at The Ritz on Sunday 9 October, 2016.

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