In a mixture of work, as well as buying a couple of my own tickets, I found myself lined up to cover five concerts in one week – none of which were going to be especially quiet. What could possibly go wrong? As it turned out, nothing did! Hallelujah. Remarkable considering that the list of concerts began with the deafening SWANS.
Me: “There are always a few people in their own psychedelic bubble when that kind of music is on! So, ears still ringing?”
However, neither of us seemed regretful, because the culprit concert was so incredible. What is left to say about Swans that I haven’t excitedly blasted at other (probably uninterested) people because they are so incredible? Not a lot, if anything. I’ve sent the video of Michael Gira falling to his knees and screaming “get out of my cunt!” to several too many people. However, many fans of Swans would probably feel the same way. Good lord, they were incredible. As they are on what is being called their last tour before Swans ends once again, I had to go and seem them on their last stop by.
I sent a video of the support act (below), the earsplitting Anna von Hausswolff – the loudest support act that I have ever witnessed. Or at least I tried. It was just flashy lights and cacophony. To be fair, she wasn’t much more than that anyway, but she was great. She sounded terrible from outside the venue as I missed her first song, as it was a garbled mess with Yoko Ono style shrieking over the top. However, in the end, she sounded great when I could hear everything that was going on.
Between Anna and the main act, I couldn’t resist chatting to the lady besides me who was visibly concerned as she spotted that she might have been one of the very few not to have earplugs in – Nina van der Voorn. We spoke about the ridiculous amount of concerts we go to, and we both sounded very experienced. Then Swans began, who true to their reputation, were outrageously loud. Nina showed me her phone, on which she had written a memo with a bold statement on – “I think this might be the last concert I ever go to”. Some might have agreed, including a man to my other side, who fainted halfway through the set. (Check out Nina’s art at www.ninavandervoorn.com by the way. She’s marvellous.)
There was a really loud build up section that left a huge amount of grumbling feedback, and it felt as though it couldn’t physically get any louder (or at very least, would they be allowed to get any louder). Then Michael Gira signalled to the drummer, and stomped. The whole band simultaneously played a really low chord and it almost knocked me off of my feet. The intensity wasn’t going to waver any time soon considering that the opening song was forty-minutes long (‘The Knot’). I was also chuffed to bits that I got to hear them perform ‘Screen Shot’, which was a boat I thought that I had missed.
We even got the second ever performance of a new song called ‘The Man Who Refused to be Unhappy’, which was about fifteen-minutes long. I can recall that there was a bit of a snigger from the crowd as Michael Gira said its ridiculous title. I can’t help but wonder how Michael felt about this. It dawned on my afterwards that we had witnessed at least one hour’s worth of new, unrecorded material. What would he do with this if this incarnation of Swans were ending? A new fundraising live album? Perhaps this was the sequel to the opener of the 1998 live album Swans Are Dead, ‘Feel Happiness’, which ended the first incarnation.
We also got what might have been the longest setlist and show of the entire tour – a mammoth… seven songs, which clocked in at about two-and-three-quarter hours. The Brighton show seemed transitional between them replacing ‘The World Looks Red’ with ‘The Man Who…’, as they performed both, and dropped ‘The World Looks Red’ two shows later.
I excitedly explained my experience to a friend who didn’t seem nearly as enthusiastic.
Me: “It was awesome.”
Her: “Doesn’t sound awesome!”
Well, it was. And with the current line-up of Swans coming to a close at the end of the The Glowing Man tour, that will be my final experience of them.