• Trebuchet Islington Assembly Concert Review

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

    Swans give one of those performances that must be seen before you die and they never disappoint. Latest release The Glowing Man purports to be the final release by this incarnation of Swans, and with this tour being the last chance for fans to take part in an incredible run of albums and performances, it was always going to be special. For readers unfamiliar with live Swans their music uses sound as a transformative tool: excessive volume, repetition, evangelical fervour, it exists at a physical level that vibrates your whole body. It’s not that audiences have to be merely interested; stamina is required, you must be mentally limber. Support act Anna Von Hausswolf gave a winning performance, mixing Bulgarian Women’s choir vocals with industrial drone to scintillating effect. Converting most of the audience, her as yet unrecorded closing number blew the roof off the crowd and I must see her perform again. As the band took the stage, with some disappointment we saw that percussionist Thor Harris wasn’t present for this tour. His parts were played on keyboards. Was there a falling out? Was this a concession to touring costs? After all, it must be pricey to travel with tubular......

  • Graffiti Punctuated Review of Swans' 10/13/16 London

    () - M. Gira, SWANS, The Glowing Man, young god

    SWANS: THE MAN WHO REFUSED TO BE UNHAPPY OCTOBER 18, 2016 NILS VAN DER LINDEN Swans | Islington Assembly Hall | 13 October 2016 This is the end. The current Swans line-up are hitting the road one last time. But, as always, it’s on their own terms. So, no nostalgia, no pandering, no greatest hits. Instead, the New York noise gods are bidding farewell – for now – with thunderous performances showcasing not just their sublime new album, ‘The Glowing Man’, but also music so new it’s not yet been committed to tape.  Like set opener ‘The Knot’. An evolution of 2010’s ‘No Words No Thoughts’, it begins as an ambient bed of string and keyboard textures, with frontman Michael Gira – back turned to the audience – initially holding back the tide, leading his band through the steady rise in volume, intensity, and tension. The anticipation swells, and there’s a palpable sense of emotional release when the wave finally crashes in a crescendo of guitars, drumming, and Gira’s increasingly animated gestures. The comedown is equally gradual and, punctuated by the frontman’s baritone vocals, no less powerful, a masterclass in the time-warping effect of repetition. So too is the urgent......

  • NME live review

    () - M. Gira, Michael Gira, NME, SWANS, to be kind, young god



    () - M. Gira, Michael Gira, SWANS, young god

    Better Than: Standing in front of a sputtering jet engine. On Friday night at Warsaw (261 Driggs Avenue) in Greenpoint, Swans performed to a sold-out crowd of masochists, who seemed to welcome the punishing drone as though it were candy. Many in the crowd wisely wore earplugs. The sheer volume of Swans easily overpowered anyone who was silly enough to forget their pair at home. Speaking in purely referential terms, only My Bloody Valentine is louder. But while My Bloody Valentine's legendary 20-minute dissonant noise-pummeling takes place in the middle of "You Made Me Realise," Swans maintained that level of intensity for their two-hour set, giving in only occasionally for Michael Gira to scat-sing or for the band to transition between songs. Opening for Swans was the Brooklyn-based black-metal quartet Liturgy. Having recently reunited again as a four-piece band, their sound was crisp and cohesive. Notably absent from Liturgy's performance was Hunter Hunt-Hendrix's high-pitched screaming; instead the vocals resembled Gregorian chants, perhaps if Kurt Cobain took up the cassock. Though the abrupt change in vocal style was hinted at on the recorded version of "Glass Earth", there was a conspicuous sense of confusion among the crowd for a moment when......

  • Los Angeles Times Live Review

    () - Michael Gira, SWANS, young god

    Like the opening moment of a meditation session, the rock band Swans commenced the first of two sold-out nights at the Roxy in West Hollywood with the ringing of a gong. The gesture, driven with delicate mallet bumps by multi-instrumentalist Thor Harris, was a signal, a directive to the packed club on Wednesday: You are here. Turn off those noisy machines inside your skulls and in your pockets and focus on the Now. Over the next few minutes, the tone gained heft, a kind of thickness, and one by one the five other Swans appeared, grabbed an instrument and started adding to the hum.  What grew from electric guitars, a yowling lap steel, bass and percussion evolved into a heaving mass, one that seemed to sway as it gained volume. Ten minutes in, this hum, still lacking a basic rock rhythm, was a cascading rumble of harmonic overtones, feedback and echo, like a locomotive on looped tracks whooshing by again and again at full speed. It was awesome, and it only grew from there. At the middle was the imposing Michael Gira, 60, statuesque with a carved face, stringy shoulder-length hair, an intense presence girded by a spiritual devotion to......

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