Swim Deep at the Roundhouse
Swim Deep are a band who wear their influences on their collective sleeves and, believe it or not, those influences are more sophisticated than a first glance might suggest. That first glance comes in the form of opening tracks Namaste and Fransisco, simplistic, kid-friendly sugar pop crowd-pleasers obviously intended simply to warm up the venue. But delve deeper into the set, into tracks such as One Great Song and I Could Change The World, and faint echoes of the Beatles and the Stones, Bowie and U2 become apparent. Not that Swim Deep ever measures up to these titans, but there’s something in the major-key chords, the syncopation and the sheet sense of fun that daringly evokes these classics. Forever Spacemen is saturated with the balladic power of Moonage Daydream, and She Changes The Weather opens with the same delicate sweetness of Here Comes the Sun. Derivative it may be, but they do it well.
However, while Swim Deep may emulate those bands, they are by no means the same or even similar in quality. For one thing, while Swim Deep clearly demonstrate their musical proficiency throughout the set, they are severely lacking in any charisma, staying more or less rooted to the spot throughout, using copious amounts of smoke, lighting effects and “guest” performances to distract from the fact they really have no stage presence. For another, while the set may start strong, it easily slips into the standard, vaguely harmonious “wall of sound” playing that’s symptomatic of most pop-rock shows. It’s disappointing, because when Swim Deep do the unusual, it’s intriguing, and worth capitalising on. Finally, and perhaps worst of all, there’s just no enthusiasm shining through to bind this set together. There’s little indication that Swim Deep are really having fun, and when the band ultimately return for a three-song encore, it feels like more of an obligation than a moment they’ve earned.
Swim Deep make some ambitious claims, throwing stones from the modern age in the vague direction of pop and rock classics, and that’s entertaining to listen to. But it’s hard to ignore the feeling that this vintage veneer is only skin deep, when the band can’t go a set without falling back on more typical inoffensive fare.
Photos: Guifré de Peray
For further information about Swim Deep and future events visit here.
Watch the video for Namaste here: