Loop were a band that shone so very brightly before burning out after just three albums between 1986 and 1991. They were part of the late eighties UK indie elite, at a point when what were still underground musical subcurrents shifted between fey, winsome jangle pop and psychedelicised supernova drug maelstroms, courtesy of the likes of Spacemen 3 and the nascent Primal Scream. Needless to say, Loop were firmly in the latter camp.
For the past two decades, frontman and Loop nucleus Robert Hampson has worked as Main. But his former band remained an itch to be scratched occasionally, first with the deluxe reissues of Loop’s back catalogue five years ago and now with a live reformation of the final “A Gilded Eternity” album line-up.
The quintet of middle-aged men who amble onstage tonight look many years away from the dark-eyed psychonauts who first unleashed the likes of Black Sun and Arc-Lite upon student jukeboxes in the late eighties. But the audience is looking its age as well, your correspondent included. Backlit as shadowy stage presences, the five-piece tear through their back pages with only a cursory “Good evening, Glasgow(!)” to kick the set off.
This is psychedelic rock the way it should be: a dark, punishing funnel of noise in which one’s true self may be stumbled across, no matter what heavenly delights or unearthly horrors are provoked. Across the course of ninety minutes, it all becomes one song centring on primal uber-riffs which set up platforms from which to wheel off into extended, repetitive trance patterns assaulting and battering the body in the most pleasant of brutal ways. It is, in short, bloody fantastic.
A final pulverising encore of Can’s “Deadly Doris” before a mind-scraping “Mother Sky” and then Loop are gone, having more than proved their heritage and continuing worth. Gig of the year, Edinburgh. You should have been there.