• Oxford Student Concert Review

    () - concert, live, M. Gira, Michael Gira, review, SWANS, The Glowing Man, young god

    Live Review: Swans ByGabriel Naughton Posted on 11th November 2016 If you were to ask the average person to imagine the loudest, heaviest, most punishing band active right now it’s unlikely that they will picture a sextet of middle-aged and elderly men. Yet the New York based Swans have always been an unimaginably odd band. Across their 30+ year history they have indulged in almost every “underground” genre there is. From harsh, dissonant no wave in the early 80’s to epic and expansive post rock in the mid 90’s, the band not only played with but also fundamentally changed each style of music they came across. Since their 14 year long hiatus came to an end in 2010, Swans have been onto something new. Their songs now tend to focus on repetitive, hypnotic grooves and slowly building atmosphere to achieve their trademark heaviness. Consequently these later-period albums have gained a well-earned reputation for being an incredibly challenging and mind-numbing listen. It’s therefore understandable that Swans is a band that often only appeals to the kind of person who loves punishment. There is an almost nihilistic approach to song structure on their last 3 albums that requires both patience and stamina......

  • Strathclyde Telegraph Òran Mór Concert Review

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    Gig review: Swans, Òran Mór, Tuesday 11th October By Georgia Curran Imagine seeing one of the most brutal experimental rock bands in the history of music in a renovated church basement. Swans formed in 1982 and split in 1997, only to reunite thirteen years later. Their post-reunion releases and performances have so far met universal acclaim. At least now policemen don’t turn up to shut down their gigs, and front-man Michael Gira doesn’t beat up audience members for headbanging anymore. The band have mellowed with age; but are they turning down their amps? Over Gira’s dead body! Bathed in electric blue light, support act Anna von Hausswolff started with simple drones and beautiful vocals. The further into the set we went, the darker the songs became. Swaying from synthpop elements to ritualistic vibes, her music is reminiscent of Jarboe’s earlier work but more polished. She satiated the crowd spectacularly, a tiny figure against the rest of her band’s silhouettes. Finishing with spine-chattering reverb and wonderful feedback, von Hausswolff has left me quaking in my Docs and buzzing for Swans. The band set up their own equipment without batting an eyelid. Gira emerged with slicked-back grey hair and brown corduroy trousers.......

  • The Steinberg Principle ORAN MOR Concert Review

    () - concert, live, M. Gira, Michael Gira, review, SWANS, The Glowing Man, young god

    SWANS – ORAN MOR, GLASGOW, TUESDAY 11TH OCTOBER 2016. It’s been a long time since I wrote anything on this blog.  It was always going to take something special to bring me back to writing.  That something special happened this week amidst one of the most challenging weeks of my life.  Without going in to details, my wife and I have had to deal with legal proceedings against her, that attempt to portray the pair of us as unstable, controlling and unfit parents.  It’s been hugely upsetting for us and for my 11 year old step daughter who it also impacts upon.  However, in the mist and darkness of all of it something has shone through.  Michelle Obama said it best when she said “When they go low, we go high”.  And so we have.  After the tears stopped and calm returned, one thing was clear.  We would not be the losers in this whole ordeal.  No, we’d be closer than ever and grow stronger than before. In the case of my step daughter and I, this strengthening of bond has been through music and an unlikely source if ever there was one: Swans.  This time last week, she told me their......

  • Rave Child ÒRAN MÓR Concert Review

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    SWANS AT ÒRAN MÓR, 11/10/16 OCTOBER 25, 2016 RAVECHILD LEAVE A COMMENT Reviewing Swans in the traditional sense is a difficult task. The music of Michael Gira’s celebrated American ensemble seems not so much to resist description as to exist in a place so totally beyond description itself that words are incapable of encapsulating the experience. Watching them on what may well be their last ever tour, I realise just how far the standard journalistic tidbits – ‘visceral’, ‘raw’, or ’abrasive’ – fall short, seeming trite in comparison to the reality of the band’s performance. The idea of the concert as religious experience springs quickly to mind: another cliché deployed too liberally, it is nonetheless the closest I can come to summing up Swans live. As the band commence their set with tracks from later records The Seer and To Be Kind, the crowd sways back and forth as one enraptured mass – no phones, no drunken patter – keeping time with…what? It appears to be some primal force other than the music, shuddering and arrhythmic as that often is. Frontman Gira gesticulates wildly with arms and hands; a mad preacher on the streets of a burning Rome. His voice – which, given......

  • London In Stereo Islington Assembly Hall Concert Review

    () - concert, live, M. Gira, Michael Gira, review, SWANS, The Glowing Man, young god

    SWANS // LIVE REVIEW By GRANT BAILEY - NOVEMBER 2, 2016 Islington Assembly Hall – 13 October  A Swans show is never a sure thing. Michael Gira’s drone machine has been rolling for over 35 years (excusing that lengthy hiatus) and in that time we’ve bared witness to the peaks and troughs of quality the band are capable of. On one hand they have the benefit of time and experience to hone their craft, but on the other the ever-shifting line-up of Swans backline always introduces an element of change and uncertainty. Tonight however the band are tight, almost to a fault. Michael is his totemic himself, the Jekyll and Hyde figure, at once the welcoming auteur and the char-hearted grandfather of experimental doom. This is not a gig for a first date. Confrontational in its volume, wilfully inaccessible in its content, you could comfortably call Swans’ live presence pretentious. But this is hardly a criticism. Swans have earned it, and as they continue their death march through ‘Cloud Of Forgetting’, submission to the brutal force of it is necessary. The drone is rich, the build indulgently heavy-footed. By contrast, To Be Kind’s ‘Screen Shot’ is playful and pacey, with......

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