Music review: The Residents, Oran Mor, Glasgow

The Residents
The Residents
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IT’S not every day The Residents are resident in Scotland – in fact, many of the gathered acolytes were receiving their first dose of one of the ultimate enigmatic cult bands in popular (and sometimes unpopular) music.

The Residents, Oran Mor, Glasgow ****

This shadowy art collective were birthed in Louisiana some time in the late 1960s and have averaged an album or two a year ever since, but the identity of the members remains a mystery shrouded in creepy masks and costumes, most iconically as huge eyeball heads in top hat and tails.

However, for this current iteration, the dress code was sinister Venetian carnival meets Mardi Gras folklore and if that was not disturbing enough in itself, they proceeded to serve up a pagan stew of prog rock, distorted delta blues and Brechtian cabaret with lyrics delivered in a throaty, expectorating rasp as if everything in their twisted, phlegmy universe deserved to be spat on.

Their southern gothic Cowboy Dream turned out to be more of an American nightmare, never better illustrated than by their epic, swampy, psychedelic take on James Brown’s It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World, which mined the true dark cabaret of that song. Yet this was a fragrant stroll in the park next to their death rattle treatment of Elvis’s Teddy Bear.

Along the way there were doctored beyond-the-grave cameo appearances from Mother Theresa, Richard Nixon and an individual called Hardy Fox, who is the only Resident so far to have ’fessed up to his involvement in this rum, intoxicating circus.

FIONA SHEPHERD