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  • Becky Waldock

Live Review: Swim Deep @ Rough Trade

The Mic hails the return of indie cult heroes Swim Deep as they grace Rough Trade ahead of their sold-out show at The Bodega.


On the 10th of October, Rough Trade hosted Swim Deep for a celebration of their new album Emerald Classics at their intimate in-store venue. After a ‘brief’ 4-year hiatus, the band has returned – reformed and re-energised. We now have a slightly different 5-piece lineup, with new members Robbie Wood and Thomas Tomaski.

Image courtesy of Ash Kingston.

It must be said that it feels like this album is about the fans, not the critics. Frontman Austin Williams made sure to acknowledge us for sticking by them, while the clover and cross hanging from his neck conveyed a pure sentiment. Both are perhaps a symbol of faith for Swim Deep, who greet us restored and imbued with a new spirit. With a murmured ‘it’ll be alright’, the set kicked off with a feeling of comforting familiarity.


Next was the uplifting World I Share. This tune isn’t that far removed from some of New Order’s upbeat tracks, and the backing sounds a bit like the intro to Electronic’s Second Nature. Keyboarder James Balmont harmonised with Austin, layering and bringing depth to the vocals.

'It must be said that it feels like this album is about the fans, not the critics. Frontman Austin Williams made sure to acknowledge us for sticking by them, while the clover and cross hanging from his neck conveyed a pure sentiment'.

A ripple of respect moved through the gathering as we were told the next song is “about heartbreak – yeah, one of those ones”. Bruised has a strong guitar-led melody punctured by strong, high notes, however this more emotional scene was juxtaposed by the use of a lemon shaped shaker which previously sat on the Casio keyboard; a funny little addition.


Both hands on the mic, eyes closed, Austin cooed heartfelt notes over the crowd for an acoustic version of Sail Away, Say Goodbye. We are told that the song was written when Austin’s Nan had dementia, as he explained that at the time he wanted to create a positive image of sailing off into the distance. He told us that he “doesn’t want it to be sad” and it certainly isn’t – instead, this track holds a different kind of optimistic feeling, despite the melancholy topic.

'Swim Deep was last in Nottingham for the 2015 Mothers tour, however this time there’ll only be a week-long gap as they’re back for a sold-out gig at The Bodega on the 20th of October'.

After a sip of beer to clear his throat, there was a bit of dialogue about their upcoming tour; “67 days around the country feels like a lot”, they explain. We laughed together about the fact that some of us were drinking Hooch, with bassist Cavan chiming in to say "it’s a drink made for 11 year old’s!". Swim Deep was last in Nottingham for the 2015 Mothers tour, however this time there’ll only be a week-long gap as they’re back for a sold-out gig at The Bodega on the 20th of October. Ever grateful, they told us “thank you for that!”.


The Sea took us back to the beginning with the familiar shores of 2013 debut album Where the Heaven Are We. Austin is pitch-perfect, delivering the lines ‘I'll have my eyes set on you/ Forever’ with passion as he focused his gaze on individual members of the crowd. Somehow, the end is similar to one of The Dandy Warhols' more mellow tracks, with soft vocals.

Next was leading track To Feel Good, which came out in May 2019. Not only does it somehow make the Job Centre sound appealing, but it’s an inspirational anthem about emerging through hard times. I was interested to see how they’d perform this song minus Margate's Social Singing choir, but surprisingly the band managed to produce an honest rendition as we’re told: “it’s just going to be us!”. The harmonies could do with some practice, but the song was well executed considering they only had five voices available to recreate the sound of a full gospel choir.

'I was interested to see how they’d perform this song minus Margate's Social Singing choir, but surprisingly the band managed to produce an honest rendition'.

To close, the band took another dip into their 2013 album with She Changes the Weather, their fourth single. A piano-led tune adds variation while the reverberating melody conjures the image of water or rain falling – simple, but so effective.


The event did come to a slightly abrupt end, as the band announced that they needed to return to Leicester. Regardless, this was the perfect introduction to their new material; the night was a highly successful and blissful performance, as well as a very warm homecoming. Swim Deep – thank you for filling us with optimism, and we’re glad to have you back!

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