American noise rock pioneers Swans have been blowing minds and blowing speakers on and off for the past 30 years, but their current tour will be the final one for the band in its present incarnation – one which includes a charismatic man called Thor on dulcimer.
Oran Mor, Glasgow ****
They are an imposing bunch in many ways – their grizzled sage of a frontman Michael Gira has cult leader potential while the rest of this band of warhorses are cut from similar cloth to Nick Cave’s Bad Seeds. You would not wish to tangle with them but they make a mighty devotional racket.
Oran Mor was packed with acolytes primed for a religious experience. The last few Swans’ albums have been triple prog rock epics, so there was no hurry for the sonic slaughter to begin. Rather there was a good half hour of hypnotic hum and rippling electronics in the Eno/Pink Floyd tradition before the bludgeoning began with the doomy toll of bass and guitar and Gira delivering a dread incantation over a controlled explosion of noise.
While the audience felt the vibrations surge through them, the sound on stage was characterised by Gira as “like a megaphone stuck up a baboon’s ass”. The universe rebelled and the power blew not once but twice. The band took it all in good humour before the resumption of hostilities, including another one-chord onslaught and a propulsive Krautrocker which energised proceedings as they galloped into the sunset.