One of Oxford’s finest show that reunions are not just for cashcows going through the motions. After 18 years, I Wasn’t Born to Lose You sounds like the band never went away. Most reunion albums don’t capture the magic of how things were first time around, but Swervedriver have bucked that trend and then some. I’d put this record up there with anything the band put out.
Openers Gateway Drugs played a spellbinding set of neo-psychedelia (they class themselves as Drug Pop, which also sounds like a good description); the band consist of three siblings (Noa, Liv and Gabriel Niles) and Blues Williams. I bought their album, Magick Spells, from them after the show and I’m not sure I’ve met a band more kind and appreciative for the support before.
Swervedriver made a somewhat low-key entrance, but their performance was anything but. Kicking off with Autodidact, which also opens the album, 7 of the 10 tracks from I Wasn’t Born to Lose You are performed tonight, which goes to show the band’s faith in the material. The rest of the set is a veritable best-of, with the likes of Never Lose That Feeling, Rave Down, These Times and Son of Mustang Ford all reinforcing the strength of their discography.
The band often got lumped in to the shoegaze movement the same way Soundgarden got thrown in with all the grunge bands. Swervedriver rocked harder than any of their supposed contemporaries, the proof of which is how often Swervedriver is used as an adjective for other groups; guitarist Jimmy Hartridge uses his pedal array to cook up a storm.
Filling in on bass for this US tour is Mick Quinn from fellow Oxford band, Supergrass, whom I consider one of the great singles bands. I hope it isn’t 17 years before they get back together!
The sprawling guitars of I Wonder? closes the set as it does the album, and the band came back for a justified 3-song encore, starting with the dreamy Everso from the new album, finishing off with Last Train to Satansville and Duel from 1993’s Mezcal Head.
On the evidence of these shows, and a cracking album behind them, hopefully the band won’t leave everyone waiting so long ever again. With Ride also touring this year, and Radiohead back in the studio, Oxford’s heavyweights are reminding everyone of a time when the city was up there with the very best of them all.
For Seeking Heat
Never Lose That Feeling
For a Day Like Tomorrow
Son of Mustang Ford
Last Train to Satansville