Swervedriver were on Creation records, had a big fan in Bob Mould and created feedback drenched, drum roll embelleshed anthems for kids with Doc martins on sticky pub floors, hair too long and unkempt to bother with, band teeshirts over shorts or combat trousers. They split up and came back, as do so many bands nowadays. This tour is an opportunity to hear the first two albums in full plus other fan favourites. This one’s for us, a last hurrah? I wouldn’t have thought so, not after tonight.
The band come onstage and they too are older like us, there’s a chord, a buzz of fuzzy feedback and they kick into Raise, a little grin to themselves and they play. From where I’m standing for the first set, right next to the stack on the right, the sound is definitely loud enough. There’s a guy in front of me with a Boo Radleys shirt and stripey cardigan headbanging along. There are a group of very drunk blokes going mental just next to me. This matters to people.
The sound is massively layered guitars with an undertow of pure melody. There seems to be no effort at all on the part of the band. The drums and bass mesh together and provide a backbone for the waves of pure psychedelic fuzzed out noise. This is how I remember the Creation records sounding, layers upon layers of sound. The bassist is lost in his own world at the side of the stage, throwing his bass around with his eyes shut and moving to the groove. The vocals rise as well as the guitars and they take you away. Then there’s the stutter, the guitars rest and the drums fill in, that’s the overriding thing I remember about Swervedriver, the stutter. They lean back into the music and the loud precision relaxes into a dirty groove.
Mezcal Head is the album I know the best, the sound turns to a more considered, more layered and less urgent groove. The songs seem a little more restrained and it feels like the guitars want to fly but are being held back, which builds tension in the sound and makes for an epic noise. They do the quiet, loud, quiet thing to great effect. It’s a wonderful sound and hearing the two records one after another makes you realise just how good this band were, and still are. So the guys are still going mental at the front and the kid is still headbanging. Swervedriver are pretty bloody good.
All pictures by Martin Ward, all words by Adrian Bloxham.