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Swervedriver

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The Rosemount Hotel 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The last time Swervedriver hit our fair shores was in 2011 at the Perth International Arts Festival, which broke a 12 year drought after their final pre-break-up show in Margaret River at the end of 1998. Fortunately, they never broke up with us – they just love Perth. Having waited so long for what was ultimately a disappointing show at PIAF, Swervedriver fans would have been delighted to hear the news that they would be back so soon to perform their legendary debut album Raise in its entirety.

Quad-box-stacks to the roof gave the Rosemount the small club vibe that the venue deserves, and also had everyone wondering just how damn loud this show was going to be. After all, Swervedriver were always one of those rare bands that had the capacity to flatten the all-important hairs in your ears whilst making the ones on the back of your neck stand bolt upright.

Walking on stage to a warm welcome, the mood was lightened by drummer Mikey Jones appearing in an uber-tight singlet reminiscent of the late Mel Smith in National Lampoon’s European Vacation (based on the average age of the crowd, that should make sense). The band ripped straight into the album, backed by inoffensive visuals projected at the back of the stage (not exactly Pink Floyd – well, maybe in ’67).

The sheer urgency of the first three songs – Sci Flyer, Pile Up and Son Of Mustang Ford – has survived the years and maintained the almost naïve excitement that comes with recording a debut album. When they took the foot off the pedal to ease into Rave Down – a particular highlight – you started to realise (if you didn’t already) the influence that these guys had on dynamics in the early ‘90s.

Perhaps a little disappointing was the muddiness of the mix, which did affect the clarity of the complex interplay between Adam Franklin’s Jazzmaster and Jimmy Hartridge’s Les Paul that they’re renowned for. But the fans – some clutching original vinyl to be later signed – were never going to care. Riffs were belted, ears were sore, and Raise was done.

Coming back on to play a greatest hits encore, the absence of any tunes from Ejector Seat Reservation and 99th Dream was obvious. They did play a couple of new ones including Deep Wound (a cracker!), and crowd favourites Last Train To Satansville, Never Lose That Feeling and Duel. It may not have reached the lofty heights of now-legendary shows in the ‘90s, but Swervies are welcome back here anytime.

_ MATT GEARY

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