Le National, Montreal QC October 1

BY Jessica CarrollPublished Oct 3, 2010

Musical performances are characterized by their physicality. Bands move to the music they play and their crowd moves with them, sometimes dramatically and sometimes subtly. Nevertheless, it's a different beast entirely when the music itself is literally moving you; you try to stand still, but you can feel it buzzing in your stomach, vibrating up your spine and to the back of your neck. You're overwhelmed and taken over, put in a full-body trance. This perhaps best describes the feeling of a Swans show - it's a completely visceral experience. Lead singer Michael Gira claims that the band have taken on a more "acoustic" approach to their live shows, but Swans were always about the sensorial intensity of their live experience, and whether he'll admit it or not, he's brilliantly stuck to his old ways. Beautiful and haunting, the six-piece played inward, to one another, while Gira spewed religious obscenities to the crowd. They seemed like a part of a trance, like we were all in it together. This was, without a doubt, one of those most memorable concert experiences of the Pop festival, if not of the entire year. Swans are conceptually flawless, and the fact that they remain capable of providing an intensely abrasive and controversial experience after more than 30 years proves that they are not only true musical greats, but artistic greats as well.

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