Music review: Swedish House Mafia, Hydro, Glasgow

There were some some lovely subtleties in this comeback gig from Swedish House Mafia, writes David Pollock

Swedish House Mafia, Hydro, Glasgow ****

At first, the trio of performers were hard to notice through the smoke and lights surrounding them, the huge, smooth, circular platform above them sucking up all the attention. It looked like an enormous halo, and – when shifted above the superstar DJs commanding the hall – a Close Encounters of the Third Kind flying saucer arrived to offer the trio a lift home at the end of the show.

For Swedish DJs and producers Axwell, Steve Angello and Sebastian Ingrosso, such enormous scale comes as standard. As internationally famous clubbing names in their own right, between 2008 and 2013 they released two compilations of their solo and collaborative remixes, and followed in the footsteps of artists like Chemical Brothers and Daft Punk in taking electronic club music into arena settings.

Swedish House MafiaSwedish House Mafia
Swedish House Mafia
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Their second coming has been pandemic-delayed, with 2019’s comeback live dates giving way to what’s technically the launch of their debut album proper, Paradise Again, earlier this year. As a result, their live show feels like something of a statement, a reclaiming of territory, with the stark monochrome lighting set cut through by fusillades of lasers, indoor fireworks, and jets of flame which let off baking heat. Their energy bill doesn’t bear thinking about.

Axwell, Angello and Ingrosso were black-clad, standing in macho power stances behind the console in centre-stage – a kind of techno A-ha. Largely playing one continuous mix, their show gave the impression of a huge rave over a concert.

The music often relied on thunderous and unsubtle EDM bass to command the space, from the opening Can U Feel It to the sweary rap pose of Frankenstein.

There were some lovely subtleties which smoothed the tone, though, including the loose groove of their version of The Weeknd’s Sacrifice, the adaptation of Bronski Beat’s Why? as their remix of Supermode’s Tell Me Why, Sting’s Roxanne lyric being entirely retooled as the chorus of Redlight and the commercial pop uplift of the trio’s own Don’t You Worry Child.

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