If you’re into music, it’s likely you have a favourite band or artist, but it’s also more likely you have a range of acts that you appreciate and enjoy, without holding any desire to follow them to the ends of the earth. That’s fine, bands and artists aren’t a football team, you’re okay to like more than one, to varying degrees and emotions.
Some bands fit this tier perfectly, and it’s no slight on their music. Swervedriver straddles a few genres and nowadays, can claim to have more than a single generation of fans. They’ve never been as big as their sounds have aspired to be, or as well-regarded as some of their peers, but with a 2019 album in tow, they’re still very much thriving on their terms.
The band’s most recent album, Future Ruins, features prominently in the set, with four out of the album’s first five tracks played throughout the night. Reviews of the album say the lyrics attack the current political state in the United Kingdom. That’s perfectly acceptable; I’d only have an issue with a politically-charged record that was in support of the present-day shitshow that threatens to bring the country crumbling down. However, you don’t come to a Swervedriver show for the lyrics or vocals even if you can’t argue with “we’re ruled by fools” line from the recent record’s titular track.
You come to a Swervedriver show because you want to be taken out of that mindset, and taken somewhere else. It’s a heavy set, but not in a depressing way; in fact, it’s anything but that. It’s heavy in the sense of importance, and of how it impacts you. Heavy as in, it’s not just music you hear, it’s music you feel, music that lifts you at one moment and then pulverises while dropping you back to earth the next. Music the way it should be.
The size of King Tuts adds to the ferocity; there’s not a lot of places where the music can go (at least on the far side of the venue) but through you. There’s virtually no let up between songs, that’s not rudeness, but equally, there’s no sense in going through niceties to lose momentum.
There are subtleties amongst the power, The Lonely Crowd Fades In The Air, weaves as much Big Star/Teenage Fanclub style melody in amongst the intensity to ensure lightness and optimism isn’t drowned out by the reverb and the drone. Autodidact and For A Day Like Tomorrow, from 2015’s comeback album, are immense, justifying their reunion and continuation with ease. Not that it was all about the new material, Deep Seat from their debut record remains as vociferous yet as sweet as ever.
The quality of and reaction to the new and relatively new songs means Swervedriver are on no nostalgia trip, they aren’t churning out tunes for people who’ve given up, finding comfort in chasing yesterday. The songs and style may not sound that different from the early 90s, but when they sound this good and hit you so forcibly, it would be silly to mess about too much.