F**k me!!! I couldn’t’ve imagined it possible but, I think that I experienced a real life happening on Glasgow’s Great Western Road. The Captain’s Rest is a gem. Laidback and welcoming, the staff are top and the basement which hosts the gig is the size of a biscuit tin and as intimate as you could imagine.
The band were relaxed and swapped anecdotes with the punters in the bar before kick-off and come across as ordinary blokes albeit with some pedigree. eg. Les has taken a holiday from his job as a boat builder to do the short tour which ends in the Philippines (the Swans are worshipped over there) and Mike Mooney will return to his launderette. They’re just guys with a love of music and a friendship which binds, just like the rest of those who were there to witness history. It was refreshing and set the stall out for the rest of the evening. I swear that I could almost taste the anticipation of the massed ranks below as I walked down the frighteningly dark staircase but in truth there were only around 50 or 60 people there and it highlighted how the Swans flew under the radar in those turquoise days. Don’t get me wrong, this could’ve gone the wrong way and going by Fiona Shepherd’s review in the Scotsman she didn’t get it but, for the majority of us who were very vocal throughout and who made the extra encore happen (the band had exited stage left and the party’s over music had been turned on but, we wouldn’t let it end prematurely and were duly rewarded with the band making their way back to the stage through the crowd although we had to wait a few moments more for a half-stripped Mike Mooney to reappear – I think he was half way down the motorway on his way home), this was a truly religious experience. Although surrounded by the likeminded, there were moments when I felt completely alone as the music washed over me and I fought back tears at times as the beauty of it all almost overwhelmed me. The band are a virtual supergroup for goodness sake but there was no pretence and no ubercool gallusness emanating from the stage, just happy smiles and the casual grace of those who are comfortable in their own skin but, with a tightness which betrays the years and the season of those looking back at you. I made the trip to the triumphal return at Static in Liverpool two years ago where Will Sergeant joined in for the encore but, the band were much more relaxed tonight and it spread to the crowd who were tuned in to the proceedings. The set was incredible and the tracks from the new album were a revelation with In Secret a particular highlight and a real tune to spread the word about. As we supped away afterwards and relived the night again upstairs in the bar, the band moved back among us and were thrilled with their reception and aglow from their performance. We talked some more with Paul and Sir Les and Mike and Ricky and soaked up the remainder of the day on the journey home. It was magical. The stuff of dreams and one of those events up there in your top 5 gigs, ever.
Poor you who missed it.