The Netherlands

26th September 2014 (2014-09-26)


Type: Audience master, recorded 2 metres back from the left-hand side PA.

Source: Factory-matched pair of Schoeps CCM 41V microphones (DINa mounted) ->
Marantz PMD661 recorder with Oade Concert Mod
(-18 dB gain/44.1 kHz/24 bit WAV)

Lineage: Audacity 2.0.5
* Amplified right channel by 1.2 dB.
* Applied very minor variable envelope amplification across
recording for consistent listening experience.
* Added fades.
* Split tracks.
* Converted to 16 bit.
-> FLAC (compression level 8) [libFLAC 1.3.0 20130526]

Taper: Ian Macdonald (ianmacd)


01. [37:03] Frankie M.
02. [13:31] A Little God In My Hands
03. [10:40] The Apostate
04. [08:34] [unknown]
05. [13:13] Just A Little Boy (For Chester Burnett)
06. [10:52] [unknown]
07. [18:51] Bring The Sun
08. [12:08] Black Hole Man
09. [01:48] [band introduction]

Total running time: 126:43


It's been a busy couple of weeks, filled with stark musical contrasts: Kate
Bush twice in London, White Hills upstairs at the Paradiso, Lady Gaga in the
cavernous Ziggo Dome, and now Swans in my regular haunt, the Paradiso's main

I'm feeling pretty exhausted at this point in the week, and the idea of being
pounded for a couple of hours by Swans really isn't how I want to spend the
evening, but it's tonight or never (or at least next time), so I conscript my
legs into one final service and bike through the Vondelpark to the site of
tonight's barrage of noise.

Pharmakon is up first. The name might sound like that of a pharmaceutical
giant, but it belongs to New York native, Margaret Chardiet.

I was planning to catch her earlier in the year at OCCII before she pulled
out, so I was pleased to learn she would be Swans' support in the autumn.

But what's this? A mere sixteen minutes after starting, she's already heading
back to the dressing-room. Well, that was short and sweet, one of the briefest
support sets I've ever seen. At least it was a tasty hors d'oeuvre.

Before long, it's time for Swans. Michael Gira walks out onto the stage,
gestures to the front-of-house sound man to kill the PA music, and then
disappears again behind the rear curtain.

A gentle rumble rises out of the nothingness and Swans' opening number starts
to germinate. Very gradually, one by one, Gira's band of merry men appear on
stage and add their own particular layer to the snowballing sound.

This is a band with very little time for the conventions of the live music
circuit. A punchy, familiar little opening number to get the crowd fully in
the mood? No, how about a brand new, unreleased 37 minute juggernaut that
pulverises everything in its path? Yeah, now you're talking.

My tired body has new life breathed into it by this assault on my senses. Now
I remember: you don't so much go to Swans as undergo Swans.

The second number is 'A Little God In My Hands' from the band's most recent
album, 'To Be Kind', released back in May.

The better part of an hour has elapsed before Swans get to the end of the
second song. Even 'song' seems a grossly term for describing the nuggets of
noise that this band conjure forth.

And so we continue for another hour or so. Swans' most recent album might be
only a few months old, but already the band have moved on and half of
tonight's set consists of new and unreleased material. My advice to you: If
you want to hear the new record, go to the previous tour.

One amusing moment (to me, at least) comes when Gira asks the lighting man to
turn the spotlight down at the front of the stage, because it's blinding the
audience. How considerate of him. He understands that it's difficult to
appreciate being deafened whilst one is also being blinded.

After a little over two hours, Swans relent. The full body massage using sound
waves comes to an end. The band take a bow while Gira introduces them. When
it's his turn, he proclaims himself to be Ernest Hemingway.

It's not something I'd want to do every night, and I'm probably sated for
another two years now, but Swans live is always a memorably visceral
experience and, in spite of my fatigue, the time passed remarkably quickly.

I'm not sure that their performance this evening surpassed the sublime gig
given by the band in Haarlem's Patronaat a couple of years ago, but it doesn't
matter. Swans certainly didn't disappoint.

The recording is excellent. Put your headphones on, turn the volume up and
fill your head with sound.

As always, samples are included to help you determine whether the recording is
worth your while.