Since my introduction in 2012 with their album The Seer, SWANS have continued to grow on me as a band over their last three albums to becoming one of my favourite acts currently working today. So armed with some earplugs and high expectations I went to see them perform In Manchester last Sunday and wasn’t disappointed. This form of music could only come from the stubborn and clear vision of Michael Gira who controlled the band and the audience with a firm hand and steely determination.
The Highlight of the night was their complete playing of The Glowing Man, the title track on their most recent album. At just under 30 Minutes long the track goes through movements reminiscent of classical music but with the far harsher tones of modern electric instrumentation. It’s these movements that epitomise SWANS. Repetitive walls of distortion crash over you, battering your mind into a hypnotic trance before falling away to quiet, detailed and often beautiful instrumentation which is extenuated by the music surrounding it.
Live they also achieve a huge dynamic range, being one of the loudest acts I’ve ever heard but also playing quiet enough to hear Michael Gira sing without a microphone on occasion. If you get a chance to experience their show go along, just make sure you take some hearing protection with you. The Glowing Man demonstrates every element of what makes SWANS great with no compromises: