I saw Swans at The Venue in 2014 and that was a great show. But the 2016 show at the same place was longer, darker, louder, and way more exhausting.
Someone posted the setlist as:
Cloud of Forgetting
Cloud of Unknowing
Some Things We Do / The World Looks Black
The Glowing Man
They were onstage at 10pm. That first piece, unknown to me, ended at 10:35pm. They could have walked off the stage then and I'd be satisfied. Whatever shape future Swans takes, I really hope they can record a version that captures the power and the glory of this mighty mini-symphony. Gira continues to compose new pieces of the very highest order. Perhaps we can get a fantastic live recording from this tour, which goes to the end of 2017. I delved into Swans Are Dead on the drive to/from this show, and I yearn for a similar document in 2018. The Knot needs to be heard.
Thor has been replaced by a guy who does wonders with keyboards. I love and miss Thor, but the new guy brings a new angle, dark ambient washes and some subtle special effects. Swans is forever changing, and a house is not a motel. The new guy is great.
Songs 3 and 4 were songs that I really dig from Glowing Man, but I didn't think they'd do them live. On the record they are rather chill and "world musicy", in a fantastic way. But here, live, the calm at the core of these songs is grabbed by the short and curlies and twisted into epic-trance-rock, if you will.
I didn't recognize song 5 as that listed above. This was a complete transformation, but by that point my brain was jello.
The title track of the new album finale was monumental. This piece has many twists and turns on the record, and live, but it never feels like Yes. It was a fitting way to end the show, and I really did not think they were going to outdo the opener, but I was wrong.
2hrs20min. My friend and I headed for the exit, dazed and confused, and we both remarked that we had lost our fucking balance. Out in the street we were zombies. Completely drained. But after some walking we both remarked about how "cleansed" we felt.
This was a performance that demanded a hell of a lot from the audience. Some around us could not withstand it. I'll remember this and cherish it for the rest of my life. The 2014 show pales in comparison, and I thought that 2014 show was great!
Gira demands so much from his coworkers. He seemed at times to be the aerobics instructor from hell. At times I sensed the drummer was spent, but he had to respond to Gira's increasing demands. Gira conducts all this with his whole body. The man is 62, and a marvel.
But of course, there is that controversy. While lined up outside, a quiet candlelight vigil took place in front of us, attended by several women, in support of Larkin Grimm. There were no arguments or debates. I felt conflicted, and I do not want to dismiss anything that anyone has said, but what do we really know?
I'm very tired as I type this. After the show I had to sip wine to 3am at my friends place while we listened to Glowing Man, in order to take stock of things, and there has been little sleep since. This show was magnificent.