It was good to have Swarf back in London, last night, after a couple of journeys to Brighton over the last few months to catch their live show. Afterwards I felt distinctly mixed emotions – frustration and pleasure in equal measure.
The frustrations first. The venue was a little off the beaten track to say the least which meant that it wasn’t going to catch the casual audience. This resulted in a minuscule crowd – which must be discouraging for the band at this stage of their career. I think they’re one of the best bands around – both live and in the studio – but I sometimes feel that I’m one of the few who gets this. The actual venue was fine but the stage lighting was poor. Again, it’s all very well having a great live show but the set-up provided by the venue didn’t really help us appreciate it. They need to address this before future shows especially if this is going to become a successful club night. The performance was short but perfectly formed and I, for one, would have liked an extra song or two particularly as there was no support (aside from the silently-delivered wonderfully bad horror flick that was on the screen before the band took the stage). Finally, given that this was an audience who mostly knew of the band prior to the night, certain sections could have offered a little more encouragement. Some of the reaction between numbers was a little lukewarm and we could have least given Swarf the dilemma of having to consider whether they had an encore ready if they needed one.
The pleasures second. The band are great at what they do. In Liz, the lead vocalist, they have an energetic and winsome front woman who has the best vocal chops you’re going to hear this year. Chris and Andrew, the twin keyboardists, offer a great range of sounds, textures, dance beats and exotic rhythms which have been obviously carefully developed prior to the show. The range of sound and atmospheres are unique, going far beyond the built in samples and settings of their synths. They create the varying ambience allowing Liz to take care of the strong melodies which she is more than able to carry. High points of the set include the newer songs “Parlour Tricks” and “Don’t Silence” and tracks from their first album “Not Enough” and “Supine”.
It seems to be a key time for the band. Careful planning will be needed to take this to a higher level prior to the second album but they are more than capable of delivering.
Photography was difficult due to the (lack of) lights but hey, I tried: