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Swans concert review


The Mermaid in Birmingham, UK

Fri, 16 Oct 1987, 37 years ago

  • one of the best
  • Posted by: Swans fan
  • On date:

The word loud doesn't do this gig justice. Dangerous... excruciating... foolhardy.... exhilarating but without a doubt breaking every health and safety rule by today's standards. We were all aware of Swans gig reputations - confrontational, people passing out from the volume, the band locking venue doors to prevent audience members a well needed escape - , yeah, we'd all heard those tales but in all honesty, didn't really expect that at the Mermaid, the venue we all went to week in week out, this dirty, run down pub that suited hardcore punk to a tee. The first tell tale sign was the amount of PA in the room. Nervous rumours abound and that familiar buzz from the amps, not normally this loud before a band played, yet that didn't stop 'indie' kids and Swans fans standing against the stage awaiting the onslaught they had in mind....in reality, the sheer sonic destruction couldn't have been anticipated in anyone's imagination. I can only say it was possibly akin to putting your head into a bomb as it was exploding..but on repeat. This was heavy in every sense. The bass thundered through every single cell in your body, in fact creating a sense that you were levitating. It literally knocked you sideways in a disorientating fashion. People have described their clothes were vibrating, that's not all, plasters was liberally falling from the ceiling, the building was shaking and that's not an exaggeration. Michael Gira was utterly intimidating, kicking any one who showed the slight effort of a 'head bang' or nodding. The drums and guitars just smashed your senses until the only thing left for any modicum of survival was to leave the room or at the very least, move to the back. Some souls stayed. I pray they survived. The volume was as loud outside the venue as it was a normal gig inside. I want to say it was horrible, not the music, but the utter utter pressure the sound waves barraging your body created, yet it was one of those experiences i've yet to re-live , even at a Motorhead gig, and i consider myself lucky to have been there. Unfortunately, the over riding memory of that show was the volume. I can't remember anything else apart from the odd Gira bit here and there but my god, and i don't use this lightly, that was the loudest most oppressive gig i have ever attended and most likely to ever attend.

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