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When word came down earlier this year that shoegaze giants Swervedriver would be reuniting for a tour of the States, I was as excited as the next guy, but doubted there would be a Denver date and started planning how far I would be willing to travel to see Adam Franklin and Co. play a show. When a Denver date was announced, and it turned out to be the second date on the tour I was ecstatic. Here was a chance to see the boys and I wouldn't have to travel 700 miles to do so… Of course, I still don't really understand the reunion, especially as it comes just after Adam Franklin has released an absolutely incredible solo record (finally!). But, hey… who am I to question this phenomenon, as long as I get to see the show, right?

The night's set list was awesome, sharing time between all four of the band's records fairly equally, although debut album Raise was more heavily represented than the others. The set was purely electric, from the opening notes of "Sci-Flyer" to the encores "Son Of Mustang Ford" and a blistering version of "Sandblasted." The love in the room for Swervedriver was obvious, as the crowd stood rapt in the glow of the noisy bliss. Never have I been to a show this loud, this rock, where every member of the audience was there for the music and stood quietly during the songs and applauded loudly when appropriate. There was an immense amount of respect in the room for the band. That is a very rare and wonderful thing.

The set included an awesome sonic version of the amazing "Last Train To Satansville"; dynamic and with a brutally expanded noise break at its closing, bringing a perfect crescendo to the throbbing rhythm and perfectly fuzzed guitars. Ad played some extended and noisy intros to the songs, building the suspense beautifully as he led into such greats as the epic "Birds" and the anthemic "Bring Me The Head Of The Fortune Teller." The superb "Rave Down" was especially huge, with supersonic guitars droning in all the right places and an especially brilliant bridge section. In retrospect, the only songs that I wish the band had played that were lacking were "The Other Jesus" and the more relaxed and beautiful "She Weaves A Tender Trap." But I couldn't realize it at the time, in the haze of musical bliss I figured they had played everything I'd ever want to hear.

The band is a bit older, as are we, the fans… but seeing Ad on stage with his same beautiful Jazzmaster was revitalizing. The sights and sounds of the evening truly gave hope and revival to us older musicians; the music of Swervedriver is a strong medicine. If these fellows, fifteen plus years on can still rock soundly and be as dynamic and amazing as they were nearly two decades ago, there is hope for the rock world, and each of us fans as well. Seeing Adam play with original Swervie players was far superior to the last time I saw him play Swervedriver songs when he was ably backed by the guys from Lift To Experience; there is some special chemistry comes from guys who played together a lot when they were younger. The special ingredient in the medicine of this music, perhaps. It is great to see this reunion tour happening in smaller venues, as well, it connects the music and the band to its fans in a special way… and even in all of that noise, with so much room for he band to be a bit loose, they are still one of the tightest rock bands I've ever seen live… and still one of the finest users of wah pedals to date.

Opening the show were Denver locals The Swayback, who rocked with their trademark ability to seamlessly blend influences into their own unique rock. As this band has grown a bit older they have really cemented their place in the annals of Denver rock history. They've got a solid rhythm section and guitars that just sing with sustain and power. All the musical growth really enhances the good songwriting of the band, creating a package that should be much more widely known that it is. This band has a promising future ahead of them, especially if they can get out of Denver a bit and make some more widespread fans. They should have a new record being released soon, and I can't wait to hear it. Following The Swayback was a band I've never heard called The Life & Times, a band that fit nicely as an opener for Swervedriver as they had a nice 'gazey/noise-rock sound themselves. They were very solid on stage, warming the audience up nicely for Swervedriver and creating some great energy. I'd like to hear their record, but I'm betting that it doesn't hold a candle to their love show… but I aim to find out.

The night was perfect. Beaiful weather, good opening bands, and the magic of the noisey Swervedriver. One of the truly amazing thing about shows like this, for an older guy like me at least, is the fact that it brings old friends out of the woodwork… members of other bands I used to play with as well as buddies from growing up. It takes a special moment like this show to realize just how much this music has been a part of our lives, how it dwells deep inside our souls and connects us to so many others in a meaningful fashion. Perhaps as I get older I can begin to realize why, Heaven forbid it, bands like The Eagles can continue to do reunion gigs. There are people who were touched by that music in a far past, far different space.

And to the vapid young blonde girl walking down 20th street that night who asked the ridiculous question, "What's a Swervedriver?" I simply say… a musical connection far stronger than your Britney Spears will ever be.

-Embo Blake

Swervedriver w/ The Swayback & The Life And Times
May 23, 2008
Marquis Theater. Denver, CO
www.swervedriver.com

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