Getintothis’ Jamie Bowman heads to Academy 2 and finds a band who got lost in the nineties but whose influence is still clear for all to see.
It’s hard not to feel a bit sorry for Swervedriver. Always a band a little out of step, their mixture of dreamy guitars, stoned vocals and dreadlocks never quite chimed with any passing movement during their early 90s heyday.
Although always closer to the grungier sounds of their US contemporaries, the Thames Valley band have subsequently been lauded as shoegazing heroes but with typically bad timing their first album and UK tour for a decade has been somewhat trumped by the return of their former label mates and fellow Oxfordians Ride
whose comeback they’ve managed to dovetail.
Even the Great Indie Discography
book describes Swervedriver
as ‘one of the unluckiest band of the 90s
‘ but far from wallowing in their misfortune and the fact that tonight’s gig is virtually empty, lead singer Adam Franklin
is determined to enjoy himself, proclaiming the O2 Academy
‘s sound as the best on the tour as they launch into the Teenage Fanclub
from new album I Wasn’t Born To Lose You
As each slice of melodic fuzz enfolds it’s hard not to reflect on just how unfortunate the band have been when compared with the plaudits handed out to so many of the peers. A young Radiohead were clearly taking notes in their home town as were Supergrass whose bassist Mick Quinn stands in for the absent Steve George.
Perhaps chief amongst their perceived crimes at the time was their obvious debt to the noisy melodicism of the likes of Dinosaur Jr
, Husker Du
and Sonic Youth
which means that for every pedal-drenched dip into their fine back catalogue (Never Lose That Feeling, Rave Down
) their newer material strikes a more mature air emphasised by the chiming Armericana-isms and suitably Byrds
-ian harmonies of brilliant newbie The Birds
By the time of the last song – a scabrous run through riff-tastic nearly hit Son of Mustang Ford – the small but appreciative audience are not only won over but punching the air for a band who are finally making their own luck.
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