Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Swans songs Philadelphia 9/29/2010
Swans' set list from opening date of U.S. tour, the Trocadero, Philadelphia, PA 9/28/2010
No Words/No Thoughts (from My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To the Sky)
Your Property (from Cop)
Sex God Sex (from Children Of God)
Jim (from My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To the Sky)
I Crawled (from I Crawled 12")
My Birth (from My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To the Sky)
Beautiful Child (from Children Of God)
Eden Prison (from My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To the Sky)
This set list perhaps explains my shock and delight at this first Swans performance in some 13 years at Philadelphia's Trocadero. A nice chunk of their excellent new album and a healthy helping of earlier songs from their distinguished canon. When I saw them at The Ritz at the time "Greed" came out, and then at the Mercury Lounge touring behind "Soundtracks For The Blind" my experiences (no doubt clouded by alcohol!) were that Swans tours were to showcase live recasting of their current body of work. So this set was a surprise, and one I'm certainly not complaining about! I honestly didn't expect to see the magnificent "Sex God Sex" performed live again in my lifetime (been experiencing a lot of reverse deja vu these days!)
The reactivated Swans consists of:
Michael Gira / guitar / voice
Norman Westberg - guitar
Christoph Hahn - lap steel guitar
Phil Puleo - drums, percussion
Chris Pravdica - bass
Thor Harris - drums, percussion, vibes, curios, etc etc...
...and they made a mighty noise! It wasn't the monolithic, impossibly dense, impossibly loud SLAB of legend... it was leaner, more economical and more focussed. And STILL accomplished what the mightiest Swans live performances also have -- creating an immersive sonic enviroment that can allow the audience to encounter trance states, hopefully tending towards the ecstatic. A number of songs might remind one of Gira's participation in some of Glenn Branca's early guitar symphonies (and Michael played on his "Symphony no. 3")but more powerfully recalled the live versions of the repertoire from "Soundtracks For the Blind" - the Swans at their most symphonic.
Other songs traded heavily in crushing beats driven home by Harris and Puleo smashing into their kits double-fisted and in tandem buttressed by throbbing bass guitar chords voicing primal, jagged riffs. Yes, it was heavy. Yes, heads were banged.
I came to this show not knowing what to expect but honestly it wasn't what I encountered -- which was far better than anything I could have dreamed up!