Bishop, The Seer, Thor and the utter brilliance of Michael Gira
There are very few things out there that you can get into with the highest of expectations, and come out on the other end with these expectations ultimately justified.
Gigs like Swans' render reviews utterly powerless. There's nothing like words, videos, or pictures that can actually convey the genius of Michael Gira and his ilk - nor what happened that night. Everything else just fades to the point that I wonder, what am I doing here?
Thirty years on the go, assaulting us with noise and freakishness and plenty of nerves, Gira is a true old soul of the New York scene, one that has obviously taken and given a lot of trouble; and for that, apart from his enormous talent, he can hardly compare or conform with anything you're bound to see about town.
What hits you first and foremost, is the truth of a life lived and places gone that you wouldn't really want to know much about, that you probably wouldn't know how to handle.
I could hardly handle the passion, the fashion (say, the half-naked Thor banging the gongs at the back, or the sinister cult leader-lookalike Christoph Hahn in his shiny green suit, stage left), or the tension of this one night, but I happily immersed myself into the merciless noise - and loved it (not bad for a music wreck with chronic Tinnitus - yup, that ringing that wakes me up on quiet Sunday mornings).
To Be Kind, Avatar (the absolute highlight for me), The Seer, Coward - it didn't matter what the band played, they played it at full tilt. Fast, slow or repetitive when they had to be, sick and infinite, they made us trip full-on till midnight. With Michael Gira dancing his perverse fantasy rite, jumping wild, kneeling on the floor and swinging his tongue ecstatic, next to Phil Puleo, Thor Harris, Christoph Hahn, Norman Westberg and (the youngest of the bunch) Chris Pravdica - they covered the full scale from expressionless menace to ear-splitting riot.
Just as my friend, who had seen them first, advised me in the past, don't miss this. For anyone, or anything.
P.S. Respect also to the utterly skillful Sir Richard Bishop, who opened the show. Beautiful and super-crafty on guitar, he had to, nevertheless, get all swiped out by hurricane Gira in the end. Like everything else.
Review and live photography by Danai Molocha (excuse the faulty pics; most security tend to get hold of my big mighty camera, leaving me with a small and week compact).