The Deaf Institute is a popular small venue on Manchester’s Grosvenor Street, off Oxford Road. The historic building which used to be the city’s deaf institute, now houses a café, bar and a music hall. The top floor music hall has recently played host to bands of the likes of Peace and Wolf Alice. But on the Tuesday 31st March, it was Birmingham fivesome Swim Deep’s turn.
They played the Deaf Institute as the first of a 4-date tour to promote their upcoming album which is due to be released in summer 2015. The miniature tour also included sold out shows at London Electrowerkz, Birmingham Oobleck and Glasgow King Tut’s over the following 3 days.
Around 8 o’clock, support act Vitamin came out to a packed Deaf Institute music hall to open to the tour. The Leeds band played a short set of indie pop songs which had a sound you couldn’t help but wonder if it had been inspired by Swim Deep’s 2013 debut album Where The Heaven Are We. The audience reacted well to their poppy, feel-good music as their attention was captured by the quartet’s mesmerising stage presence. One track which stood out was new single Did It For You.
Just after, 9 o’clock the lights dimmed and Swim Deep were greeted by cheers and screams as they stepped onto the stage and picked up their instruments. They had said on social media before the gig that it would be a nervy one for them. Along with some extremely trippy kaleidoscopic lighting, the five-piece opened their set with unheard new track Namaste. It was a sneak preview of the new album. One which is already shaping up to be very different from the band’s 2013 grunge-inspired indie pop album Where The Heaven Are We.
It seemed to be an odd decision to open on a new track which was so different from the Swim Deep this audience likely fell in love with in 2013. But then they were hit with fan favourite, 2013 hit single, Honey. Which really transformed the atmosphere of this intimate gig, sending fans into a frenzy, jumping around and singing at the top of their voices. And frontman Austin Williams was no exception.
They then played Red Lips I Know- a popular track from their first album. The crowd loved it, still jumping around but visibly tired out by the manic dancing to Honey. Swim Deep then played a new song called One Great Song And I Could Change The World. It was a track from the new album, and again previously unheard. It was a chilled out track which provided the set which a nice little break from all the craziness. The audience seemed to enjoy it- girls getting up on boyfriend’s shoulders and people swaying with cameras and phones held above their heads.
Swim Deep didn’t fail to give the audience what they wanted, going on to play another 3 popular tracks from Where The Heaven Are We; Francisco, She Changes The Weather and King City. Their fans were loving every second of it and seemed to feed off vocalist and guitarist Austin’s unbelievable energy. You can’t say he’s not a performer. Fans were constantly trying to push their way to the barrier and a bunch of arms stretched out to Austin every time he crouched at the edge of the stage. The noise level in the room seemed to double when a massive Swim Deep logo was projected onto the stage and the band members on it. King City prompted some very loud singing from the audience, almost drowning out Austin’s vocals.
The brummie boys’ eighth song of the night was new album track Fueiho Boogie. It was a loud physchadelic track which, maybe because they were loving Swim Deep’s new material or maybe because they were caught up in the excitement of the night, had the audience dancing relentlessly. The song was very interesting, which less lyrics than you would expect from Swim Deep and certainly more physchadelia than you would expect from Swim Deep. But it’s perfectly natural that this band has evolved over a two-year perioid, which is a long time in the music industry. They have even picked up a new member, keyboardist and percussion, James Balmont since their last album was released. It’s not only clear to Swim Deep’s change of style in their music, the clothes they wear have changed- swapping band t-shirts, ripped jeans and mucky converse for satin shirts and flared trousers. With Austin donning a flat cap, and bassist Cavan McCarthy a fancy scarf.
To close the show, Swim Deep played a song called To My Brother. A track from the new album, but one which was posted on YouTube a couple of months ago as a preview of the album. It received a lot of praise from fans and received a prestigious BBC Radio 1 single of the week from Huw Stephens. The audience danced and sang along to this new unreleased song as if it had been out for years. Which is surely very encouraging for the band. They seemed as if they were desperately trying to use up the last of the energy as it was the last song of the night. Which of course, the audience was blissfully unaware of.
Swim Deep hadn’t actually spoke to the audience all night, apart from perhaps once near the beginning of the set. Their fans had no idea To My Brother was going to be their last song of the night, so it came as a surprise when the lights came of and Swim Deep put their instruments down, waved, and walked off stage. Their set had only lasted 40 minutes and 9 songs- not a lot longer than support acts Vitamin’s set. It was now only 20 minutes to 10. Nobody left the music hall for at least 10 minutes, anticipating or hoping for an encore. But chants of ‘encore’ and ‘we want more’ were to no avail. Their roadies were on the stage packing up the equipment, encouraging people to ask them and the security inside the hall if they were coming back out. ‘Sorry, that’s it’ was the answer from all of them.
It was a disappointing end to the gig for these fans who had been treated to some old favourites and some new material at such an intimate venue. A few long-faced fans trudged out of the venue but the majority waited around, assumingly hoping for the chance to meet the boys. They were rewarded for their patience, when the band came out after another 10 minutes. Austin, Cavan, James, Higgy and Zach chatted with fans, took pictures and signed merchandise. They seemed genuinely happy to be there doing that which must have been very nice for their loyal fans to see. It had been a night of varying emotions. It was disappointing for Swim Deep’s fans who didn’t get what they expected but at least they got to meet the band and be thanked for going by the band themselves.