Experiencing a band who have retained their musical integrity over a thirty year period is not a daily pleasure; it’s a grand event. Swans’ appearance in Glasgow carried with it high expectations, and with support from Sir Richard Bishop it made for a promising line-up. Ticket price was reasonable for The Arches, and certainly merited by the band’s industrious career: exceeding thirty releases.
The tour follows the release of one of 2012’s more interesting albums: The Seer. The artwork introduces the stark contrast heard in the music, and was in all manners a release concerned with every nuance of the sound. The title-track’s 32-minute duration and bagpipe/percussion introduction brings to mind Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s East Hastings, but soon ascends above and beyond in the moody excitement of Swans’ rich, rolling and diverse constructs. The track is largely representative of Swans live: in the course of a two-hour show we were subjected to only six songs, but each successive track sapped more sanity and drove the sheer weight of the sound into the audience.
The crowd varied in age and well-represented the diverse appeal of Swans’ music. As support, Sir Richard Bishop’s music promised a fine and delicate contrast to the onslaught which followed. What he presented, however, was a dirtier, more convoluted sound. To watch his fingers it was clear that technically his playing was precise, even in its more chaotic motions, yet the sound was dense and reverberated angrily through the venue’s halls.