LIVE REVIEW: Swears @ Sidecar Studios, Middlesbrough | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Regardless of whether tonight is a viable transitional format or easy way to kill two birds with one band praccy-shaped stone, I didn’t realise how much I had missed the thrill of a full band sound. Or even just watching a band plugging in and tuning up, as that was all I was actually allowed to observe directly through an open door in Middlesbrough’s warren-like Base Camp, before retiring to watch the band’s set on a tablet in the venue’s spacious office. In the new Sidecar Studios, SWEARS have found the perfect place to flip that particular doomy psychedelic switch in my brain.

After one of, if not the first, full-band live stream via their own Facebook page I asked guitarist George if it felt a bit like roleplay without a live audience: “Yes and no. I never look at the audience anyway but I was aware people were watching.”

Between song banter is kept to a bare, if slightly uncomfortable, minimum but with full light and sound set-up, and giving the venue’s new backline a full run out, it is clear SWEARS have missed these performances and are a band ready to roll back lockdown at the earliest opportunity. Most recent single Say Nothing along with Brain Dead and older favourites like Cabin Fever and Subliminal are raucous and refreshed, if a little raw and rough around the edges.

Singer Joel added: “It was good, it was so long since we’ve even played together. We’re definitely gonna do another one. It gives us a bit of freedom because we’ve got a lot of ideas for new songs so we can just crack on with them now, but it’s a pretty shit situation. The main point of being in a band is to do gigs and travel and see different venues but we can’t do that at the moment…”

So making the best of it seems to be the order of the day, with a long period of uncertainty now likely and regulations changeable at short notice we come back to the unedifying but realistic possibility of a band playing in one room and a socially-distanced audience in another. At least while lockdown remains eased.

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