Michael Gira + Devendra Banhart, Bush Hall

Time Out London | by Sophie Harris

Live review

People vomited when they say Michael Gira’s Swans play live in the mid ‘80s.. With droning washes of guitar, the NYC industrial punk pioneers set out to make the loudest noise possible; so loud, in fact, that it tended to vibrate the audience members’ internal organs (one TO staffer has a friend who’s deaf in one ear to this day as a result). Fuck.

And while Gira’s latest project Angels of Light deals in gauzy, fragile melodies and whispers – check new release ‘Everything Is Good Here/Please Come Home’ (Young God) – the aaargh-you’re-fucking-with-my-mind aesthetic persists. Thankfully. The whispers and chimes on tracks like ‘Palisades’ soothe and lure you into the land of doze, only to build to a hypnotic, mind-monging climax of hummed noise.

Less enervating, and certainly more delightful, is Gira’s Young God Records protégé Devendra Banhart, who supports tonight. This feral, sinewy creature from Brooklyn released his debut LP ‘O Me O My…’ earlier this year, and crafts deliciously black folkish songs that recall Lewis Carroll’s ‘Jabberwocky’ as much as they do Banhart’s beloved Greenwich village singing muse Karen Dalton. Songs like ‘Michigan State’ lace fondant soft melodies with scrappy whistles and Banhart’s longing yowl of a voice. It’s brittle, enchanting and scissor-sharp.

But while Banhart snarls, it’s Gira who’ll bite. Neither are tame, both are intoxicating. Just don’t sit too near.