THOR & FRIENDS: St Peter’s Church of Ireland, Drogheda, tonight.
There isn’t a more aptly-named musician in the world than the godlike Thor Harris – one of the most revered percussionists around and the backbone of Swans’ thundering live show and colossal albums post-2010.
Thor’s Friends – on the debut record at least – are Peggy Ghorbani and Sarah ‘Goat’ Gautier, with various other guests appearing live since they formed in 2015.
Swans’ reputation is built on blunt force trauma riffs, drones and sheer physical heft, and Harris is a human battering ram, knocking various home-made instruments into next week with mallets and sticks. But he’s also behind a lot of their transcendent ambient passages, and Thor & Friends further explores this path. Drawing on American minimalism, the album is an impressionistic wash of drones and pulses, with xylophone and marimba circling around phased strings and occasional discord. It’s one of last year’s most straight-up enchanting records and the church setting will only add a few extra goosebumps to your night.
REJJIE SNOW, The Academy, Dublin, tomorrow,
Irish rapper Rejjie Snow has often looked to the States for inspiration, but his latest video for Flexin plants him right back at home in his native Dublin – joyriding a BMW round the inner city, through the Port Tunnel and even pulling a few doughnuts at Mattress Mick’s.
The snarly trap track is a detour away from the smooth soul samples and choruses of preceding singles Pink Beetle and D.R.U.G.S. and the Ghostface-inspired Crooked Cops.
It’s further proof that you can’t pin the young MC down, another tantalising snippet of his debut album Dear Annie, that he’s finishing in LA.
This one’s sold out, and you can’t even get any spares on skullduggery site Seatwave, so get ready for one of the most hyped rap shows of the year.
HOT CHOCOLATE, Waterfront Hall, Belfast
If it wasn’t for The Full Monty and every crap student disco putting You Sexy Thing through the wringer over the last 20 years, we’d probably be due a Hot Chocolate reappraisal.
And even if it’s played out, You Sexy Thing is a legit belter, and Hot Chocolate have plenty more where that came from.
Listen to the processed Moog guitar line on Every 1’s a Winner – it could be straight off Daft Punk’s Discovery, and the song’s head-nodding funk and spacey synths make it one of the most deceptively filthy sounding disco songs ever.
And if David Holmes, Optimo or the Glimmers dropped Heaven Is In the Back Seat of My Cadillac on a mixtape it’d be reclaimed right away.
Hot Chocolate had at least one hit every year from 1970 to 1984 – from the space-funk lite of No Doubt About It, the wah-wah rock riffage of Could’ve Been a Lady and Brother Louie, and, OK, the pure cheese of It Started with a Kiss, and this purple patch will likely fill the whole set.
Original frontman Errol Brown left in 1986 and sadly died in 2015, but current singer Kennie Simon still hits those high notes like a trouper.
THE BLACK MADONNA, The Limelight, Belfast, Sunday
The Black Madonna has already released one of the most joyous summer-ready festival tunes of the year, and she did it in early January. He Is the Voice I Hear is a 10-minute piano-led disco-house workout that works both as an end-of-set gear-changer and a manifesto.
Kentucky DJ Marea Stamper was named Mixmag’s DJ of the year for 2016, after becoming one of the most talked-about modern selectors after years plugging away in relative obscurity.
Tying together techno, house disco and electro, she’s always got one foot in the roots of the scene – even rocking a Patrick Cowley T-shirt on the poster for her first ever Belfast show.
With support from local Feel My Bicep lad Hammer and sets from Schmutz, Conor Harding, Phil Mellon and Marion Hawkes, it’s another fine bank holiday at Shine.
Francois K, Pygmalion, Dublin, Sunday
French-born Francois Kervorkian has been an integral part of dance music’s wiring for 40 years, since moving to New York in 1975 as a jazz drummer then playing records at iconic clubs like Studio 54, The Loft and Paradise Garage. He’s not one for full-on nostalgia-fests though – “I just think you have to be in touch with the moment,” he told me in an interview last year.
With over 1,000 productions and remixes, he’s worked with Depeche Mode, Pet Shop Boys and Yazoo, and is one of the few artists to get their hands on Kraftwerk’s raw material for remixes.
It’s a daft understatement to say his sets are varied – with house, techno, soul, dub, jazz and the outer limits fair game.