WERE YOU THERE?: Michael Gira @ Teatro Miguel Franco, Leiria, Portugal | 24.02.2008
Where we will remember shows we watched and photos we took in past lives.
There are precious few good things that come with aging, but one of them is surely bragging rights for having been at shows where those pesky younger kids weren’t. And if I had to grow up suffering all the older people telling me how awesome it was to see Metallica with Cliff or Queen with Freddie or Ramones at CBGB or whatever, I have paid my dues enough to now become that smug asshole sometimes. I was also, during a period of my career, a photographer - or maybe let’s just say I took photos at shows, so as not to offend any real photographers out there -, something mostly born out of convenience, when I was covering gigs for mags and I could be a useful writing/photographing one-man-army. So I have a sizeable archive of pics to back up my memories of many a show I attended, and it’s a fun thing to dig out now and then, especially when it’s still useful for bands. Everyone likes a little nostalgia now and then, right? Christian Mistress, for instance, recently published a pic from their 2012 Roadburn show I had sent Christine in the aftermath of the chats we had for the podcast episode where she was a brilliant guest.
So, here’s our new feature. From now on, I’ll regularly dig up an old show I went to, share some memories, and show you a few pics I took. One or two might have shown up in some mag at the time, but they will be mostly previously unseen by anyone. (incidentally, please don’t steal my photos, okay? By all means repost or whatever you’d like if you think they’re cool, but do credit me, that’s all I ask) Oh, and don’t worry about that first paragraph - I’m not that cool, or that old, and neither do I live in a place with easy access to super unique shows I can really brag about. It’ll just be stuff I liked, and hopefully it’ll catch some of you who were also there, or at a similar one in your neck of the woods, and can share your own memories. First up, a harrowing solo performance by Michael Gira fifteen years ago, at a fabulous small theatre in the middle of Portugal. Were you there?
+FABRIZIO MODONESE PALUMBO
Teatro Miguel Franco, Leiria, Portugal
Feb 24, 2008
Expectations were higher than imaginable, as I had never seen Michael Gira play solo before this. In fact, I had never even seen Swans, nor did I think I ever would, inactive as the band was at the time. So it was a show that took on that extra meaning to me, the first time one of my biggest musical heroes would perform before me. Which is why I did not hesitate to decide I would cover both dates - you see, I live near Lisboa, and Michael had a show at an old movie theatre in town also scheduled for the next day, the 25th. But I couldn’t bear knowing that he would be playing 150km from me, in my country, while I sat around at home, so off I went to Leiria, one of my best decisions ever, as the atmosphere at that show was so much better. The sound was perfect, Michael’s performance was a little more raw and intense, and even the light was amazing for photos (it was so shit in Lisboa that I have zero even half-decent pics from that one). The opener on both dates was experimental Italian musician Fabrizio Modonese Palumbo, a very pleasant discovery at the time. I knew Larsen, but had never heard his solo music before, and the way he manipulated sound textures and abused his guitar to extract unique sounds (he used a vibrator at one point!) really impressed me.
As for Michael, well, he was himself. That terrifying intensity, the left boot dryly hitting the floor for precussion, sharp and funny occasional chit-chat with the audience, a phenomenal setlist mostly consisting of Angels Of Light songs but with a couple of Swans acoustic reinterpretations and even a Swans Related Project song (‘Blind’, from ‘Drainland’, of which his half is essentially his first solo release), it was everything a wide-eyed lifelong Swans fan could dream of, and have subsequent cool nightmares about. I barely remember taking any photos. That most of them are in focus at all is a surprise, as I was probably gawking at the man’s hypnotic performance rather than paying attention to shutter speeds or any of that boring shit.
Love Will Save You
Promise Of Water
God Damn The Sun
My Brother’s Man
New York Girls
Sometimes I Dream I’m Hurting You
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