Time may have slipped into the history books, but Oxford’s Swervedriver dispel any concerns that cobwebs might be easing their sound. It was almost 27 years ago that the band took to the stage at Leicester’s legendary Princess Charlotte – later to become merely ‘The Charlotte’. This was a cramped and heaving venue, sweat dripping from the walls, a tiny space in comparison, where the band first took to the boards in Leicester. Given that this must have been around June 1991, full marks are due to frontman Adam Franklin for remembering that on said previous occasion it was local band The Scum Pups, who had offered them support!
Well none of the band’s fervour has been lost, as the third number in, ‘Son of Mustang Ford‘ meets the ears of an eager audience; was this really going to be a performance of the first 2 albums in full? An audience, generations apart, is being brought together in a sea of sound and we’re feeding from the air – music which has lost none of its youthful passion. I am from the older generation of fans, having been present at that first coming and now fully immersed in what the band are now conjuring before us. To call this ‘black magic’, would certainly be no underestimation.
At 10:20pm, Franklin finally calls time on proceedings, some 90 or so minutes into a performance which had consisted of two halves (not to be confused with the beautiful game, but then, these were 2 beautiful albums) comprising many of the band’s staple fare. Sticky threads of familiar feedback remained in the air until, after a short hiatus, the band returned to the stage, these sound-sculptors once again feeding the souls of the eager audience. Something I couldn’t help drawing comparison to was the club scene in Stephen Norrington’s Blade, such was the intensity of the sounds flying from the stage and the red hue of the lighting.
The years passed before them, and certainly not without effort. 5 Swervedriver albums in and several outfits had ensued, as Franklin and co called upon their earlier incarnation, taking corners with ease and driving them past whatever finishing post lie before them. But to use such an adjective might be something of a misnomer, as these guys show no sign of stopping anytime soon. The next album is already being crowdfunded, and with a sound like a Hawaiian volcano, Swervedriver look here to stay. Let’s just not leave it so long next time.
Photo kindly supplied by Drowned In Sound’s Dom Gourlay.