Tonight was a first for me – Swervedriver guitarist Adam Franklin asked for more lighting on the stage because he couldn’t see the frets on his guitar. I’m a long-time Swervedriver fan, and I was disappointed that I could hardly see them this evening. The equivalent of candlelight 5-watt back-lighting may be great for mood and atmosphere, but it did nothing for me this evening as I watched the silhouettes of one of my favourite 1990s bands move about on stage (real carefully, because they could hardly see what they were doing). My Swerve photos are all crap, and thus not posted here.
Amidst a dreamy wash of swirling and cascading guitars, Mikey Jones and guitarists Adam Franklin and Jimmy Hartridge created a wall of signature Swervedriver noise as they worked their way through a bunch of tracks from their recently released Future Ruins. While the newer material may not be as familiar as the deeper tracks from 1991’s Raise and 1993’s Mezcal Head, the new songs mixed in well with the back-catalog songs like “Never Lose That Feeling” and “Duel” that the Swervies closed off their set with.
According to Swervedriver, “The Lonely Crowd Fades in the Air.”
Ken Andrews, Greg Edwards & Kellii Scott took the stage at around 10:45pm. The difference in sound between Swervedriver and Failure was quite noticeable. Since reuniting in 2014, Failure plays live without amplifiers. Ken Andrews and Greg Edwards route their guitars through a digital interface that recreates the clarity of a studio recording. I was wearing -25db musicians earplugs that cut down the excess volume enough that I questioned how the band was achieving their sound as it was impeccable. I watched the majority of their performance from behind the soundboard, where the songs felt like they were 90% true to their studio incarnations. Simply amazing.
Failure’s setlist was filled with selections from last year’s In the Future Your Body Will Be the Furthest Thing from Your Mind – a new release comprised of material that saw release over the course of a year as it was released initially as a series of four EPs. The band touched on seminal moments from Magnified (“Undone,” “Frogs”) and Fantastic Planet (“Stuck On You,” “Another Space Song,” “Smoking Umbrellas,” “Heliotropic”) before closing with “Macaque” and “Screen Man” from their 1993 Comfort debut.
A band known for being a tight live act in the 1990s, Andrews, Edwards and Scott have doubled down on their live spectacle over the past five years, delivering sound-perfect versions of their best material for anyone willing to buy a ticket and come back out and see them perform. Edwards and Andrews seamlessly traded guitar and bass duties just like they did back in the old days. They may have played on April 1st, but there was nothing April Fools about Failure’s performance in the slightest.
Pay attention when watching this Failure video, it flies by with “Dark Speed.”
Failure’s Toronto Setlist:
01. Solar Eyes
02. Distorted Fields
03. Heavy and Blind
04. Another Space Song
06. Smoking Umbrellas
07. Stuck on You
10. A.M. Amnesia
11. Counterfeit Sky
12. Dark Speed
13. No One Left
14. The Pineal Electorate
17. Screen Man