Swans – The Button Factory 22/10/10

After a 13 year dormancy, the mighty and ineffably important Swans have returned and finally, to European shores. With Dublin being the second show of this tour it means that inevitable creases of the first night of a tour are quick to be ironed out.

Firstly though, lone support act James Blackshaw’s set is an interesting one. He stands alone on stage, acoustic guitar in hand delivering beautiful and sombre finger style instrumental guitar work. It is stunning stuff overall despite the slightly annoying re-tuning between each song.

A drawn out intro then beckons the arrival of Swans and when Michael Gira walks out onto the stage, it’s clear immediately that a special night has indeed commenced.

‘No Words/No Thoughts’ is the opener that rears its head from elongated intro stretched across nearly half an hour. It’s emblematic of how Swans’ songs take on a new life-force on stage.

New material from My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky features heavily in the night’s set-list. Michael Gira has continually insisted on this current incarnation of Swans not being a “reunion” and most certainly not nostalgia based. With that, it doesn’t come as a surprise that new track; ‘Eden Prison’ is a standout moment marking the climax of the night.

Several songs have in fact endured a transformation with many long, dense instrumental jam sessions between some songs. There isn’t one aspect of this night’s performance that is not otherworldly intense, the vibe is vast throughout and unrivalled, creating an air near indescribable.

Older material is of course present too though and they sound every bit as emotionally devastating as they did upon their conception but still, with a difference. They too have been re-worked and adjusted to fit the 2010 existence of Swans. These re-imaginings are just elegantly brutal, which is one way to put it like, the overpowering ‘Sex God Sex’.

The encore is another new number, ‘Little Mouth’ which concludes with a harrowing silence throughout the venue. It’s overwhelming, the sound of the person next you breathing eventually collides with your eyes and it’s only broken by Gira’s “thank you” after which this peerless enigma that goes by the name Swans exits. Breathtaking.

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