Swanton Bombs Live, Leicester


Picture the scene; hundreds of shy boys (and girls, I’m no sexist) in cardigans drop their journals and Xiu Xiu CDs and burst into the streets, perhaps leaping cars and knocking down bystanders, a la Bitter Sweet Symphony (but minus that prick Ashcroft) in pursuit of one simple goal – to sample the musical delights served up by Swanton Bombs as they tour in support of their debut, Mumbo Jumbo Murder.

If only. Leicester, my adopted hometown, has hardly developed a reputation for being somewhere that music/art/thought has thrived – if a place’s most famous exports are the Elephant Man, the lumpy one from Kasabian and a man who peddles crisps for a living I think it’s pretty fair to regard it as a cultural wasteland – and it easily manages to live down to its meagre standing tonight. Though Swanton Bombs’ gig is sold out (in support of Los Campesinos!), the room is around the size of my kitchen (and I really don’t have a big kitchen). When lead singer Dominic emerges onto the stage, he surveys the 3 or 4 people in attendance with, I imagine, a mixture of bewilderment and despair.

Looking dapper in their £30 Primark suits (as they proudly announce to the audience), they manage to convert the fey indie boys who turned out for Los Campesinos! to fans of their driving proto-punk by combining a ridiculous musical proficiency (drummer Brendan in particular works the drums like an octopus/Animal from The Muppets hybrid) with a monstrous energy.

Let’s put aside the inevitable ‘British White Stripes’ comparisons for a moment – yes, they are British, yes, there are two of them, and yes they do play really fucking loud, but by tarring them with that Detroit-spattered brush devalues their fine craft. The likes of ‘Viktoria’ and ‘Fear, There and Everywhere’s wry lyricism and raucous charm can’t be lumped in with the work of the White ‘siblings’; though they may be great, Swanton Bombs are something special.