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