Swallow, The Butler, Reading

Swallow at The Butler in Reading

I don’t usually do covers bands, but since this one was just round the corner from me, it would have been rude not to. Swallow are the Reading-based classic rock covers band fronted by Crimson Sky’s Jane Setter, with Diane Fox (above) on bass, Nick Martin on guitar, and Ade Ogden on drums. Their repetoire includes songs from Blondie, Uriah Heep, Golden Earring, Jefferson Airplane, and expecially for this gig, Led Zeppelin.

Swallow at The Butler in Reading

It’s not many gigs where I end up with more good photos of the drummer than of the singer, but pub gigs of this nature can be a challenge to photograph. The “stage” was wide but not very deep, with everyone in the front row. I was impressed with Ade’s drumming, and indeed the tightness of the whole band, as demonstrated by a very powerful version of “Radar Love”, one of the high spots of their first set. As a basic guitar-bass-drums-vocals lineup some songs needed to be played in a stripped-down forum, but the band’s arrangments worked, even managing to do Uriah Heep’s “Easy Livin’” justice without keys. I liked the way Diane Fox played the piano intro for UFO’s “Doctor Doctor” on bass.

Swallow at The Butler in Reading

Most of their second set was Led Zeppelin songs, at the request of the venue. Having seen the likes of Karnataka and Panic Room play Led Zep standards as encores, I’ve always thought Led Zeppelin songs work extremely well with female vocals, and the half-dozen songs they played, drawn largely from the early albums proved to be a very good fit for Jane’s voice. Somehow I doubt that Robert Plant could hit the high notes on “Immigrant Song” nowadays. And if Jane Setter could do Robert Plant, Ade Ogden also did a very convincing John Bonham.

While I still prefer to see bands play original material, it nevertheless makes for an entertaining evening, and Swallow do what they do extremely well.

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