The cream of Glasgow hipsterdom turned out en masse for this show. As is usually the case, they were more interested in each other than anything going on elsewhere, so from the start Michael Gira was struggling against a hubbub of chat. He took ages rearranging his drinks, picking up and putting down his guitar, removing his hat and generally fidgeting before greeting the audience and launching into “God Damn The Sun”, one of a couple of Swans tunes aired tonight. He turned the sweeping elegy into a broken dirge, but the emotional power of the song was left intact. Unfortunately, though, things went pretty much downhill from there. The songs that worked best were the ones that were loudest – the anguished holler of “My Brother’s Man” came over very well – but it was soon clear that half the audience simply weren’t prepared to listen. “Failure” was completely lost amongst the noise. By the second half of the set, I’d pretty much given up trying to concentrate. Gira himself seemed happy enough after the set, signing CDs and chatting with fans, but it would have been far better to have seen him somewhere smaller among his own audience.
The Boredoms made too much racket for the self-regarding gossipers to be too much of a problem. With three drummers, Yamatsuka Tetsuro growling, stalking and generally hitting things and a fifth shadowy member seemingly providing most of the musical colour, they present quite a spectacle. The rhythms are like those of a traditional Taiko ensemble tempered with a krautrock groove, and the results can be mesmeric. Yamatsuka had an interesting piece of kit which is built with seven guitar necks arranged in a gated fashion like a clothes-horse. Each is tuned to a different chord, so by thumping them with a drumstick in turn, they can produce some mighty riffs. The problem that the band has is that the set up is a bit restricting. An hour and a half of them gets a bit samey and begins to induce, well, boredom. If they’d played half as long I would have been twice as impressed.