Apr 4, 2008

Modest Mouse @ Big Top, Luna Park

By my reckoning it would seem most people who attend Modest Mouse concerts these days only own their latest two albums. This was fairly evident at their show at Luna Park's Big Top last night. The loudest cheers were definitely for their most recent tunes. But I am OK with this. Bands change, their demographics change, times change. And isn't it better that a band as great as Modest Mouse is gaining more fans and playing to larger audiences? The good news, despite my reservations about the night, is that Modest Mouse are still a powerful, awe inspiring live act. Thanks to one man. The man. Our man. Isaac Brock. He is a singular figure. Combustible and tempestuous. Intense and swaggering. Touched by greatness. A chronicler of our times. If you doubt me, then just delve into the back catalogue. Then you will testify. Testify.

Modest Mouse are important to me. Important to me because they matter. They matter because their songs convey the grit and determination of life. The pulse and the heart. And seriously, their songs are just so damn catchy. Last year they played at the Enmore Theatre, on their first ever trip to Australia. I did enjoy that night, but for some reason it never soared. I think it was because they played a lot of material that was yet to be released. Songs that would appear on their 2007 release "We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank". Honestly, those new songs weren't grabbing me at the time. Plus, I was secretly hoping for a slew of older material. Which never arrived. So, this time around, I was more realistic. I would be happy with whatever was presented before me. I was determined to have a good time. Which I did. To my surprise, the songs off their latest release sounded better this time around. I really liked "Education" and "Fly Trapped In A Jar" and I even enjoyed "Dashboard", which I have never grown to love. But there was so much more to this show last night. "Bury Me With It" opened and I was immediately on an euphoric high. Then five songs in they played "Doin' The Cockroach". I nearly went into shock. I had heard that this classic song was an addition to recent shows, but I still didn't expect to hear a track from my favourite Modest Mouse album "The Lonesome Crowded West". The powerful middle section of this song is just intoxicating. But then, there was more. I loved "Satin In A Coffin", one of a couple of songs where Isaac sported the banjo. "Float On" was obviously a massive crowd pleaser. My enjoyment though was ruined by a pack of large idiots who decided it was time to crash the crowd and stand right on top of me. Going into the night I was actually a little worried about the venue and the crowd. Surprisingly, I quite liked the venue. The sight lines were good and the sound and lighting very good. On the whole the audience was quite good too. Respectful of each other's space and generally enjoying the show. But in a large crowd, there are always a few who spoil things for the many, having zero idea of personal space. But then a blistering, incendiary performance of "Tiny Cities Made Of Ashes" made me refocus on the music. Probably the highlight of the night. Well, until the encore, which I think I might have scripted. "Black Cadillacs" was a nice starter, but I was nearly apoplectic when the band played "Broke". My favorite Modest Mouse song, ever. Totally unexpected. Totally perfect. Then "Spitting Venom" closed. All ten minutes or so of fury and power. Bliss.

A night that began with reservations became a night of unreserved joy. A night of smiling and dancing. A night of power and passion. The band were tight and totally in form. I am still not sure why they need two drummers and I know Johnny Marr is reaching legendary status, but I still believe that Isaac Brock could handle all the guitar by himself. And maybe, just maybe, a return to a stripped back three piece would give the songs a little more breathing space. But it was a night to remember. Thanks to Isaac Brock. The man is intense. Barely saying a word, he is all business. Nowadays fully bearded, he seemed less angry then at last year's show. Although he still sometimes had a manic stare, he seemed dynamic and edgy, rather then just plain angry. An hour and a half of fun. Of believing again. Of knowing the live experience sometimes just can not be beaten. Ever.

Set List
Bury Me With It
Paper Thin Walls
King Rat
Doin' The Cockroach
Here It Comes
Fire It Up
We've Got Everything
Satin In A Coffin
Float On
Tiny Cities Made Of Ashes
Fly Trapped In A Jar
The View

Black Cadillacs
Spitting Venom

I have some photos at my Flickr.


  • At April 04, 2008 , Blogger Nick said...

    Nice review and also pretty good set list you guys got. Melbourne show was also awesome but I wish we'd gotten Spitting Venom, Trailer Trash made up for it though.

  • At April 04, 2008 , Anonymous jess said...

    You're right, Wayne - I only have the two latest MM albums.
    I saw them at V Fest and enjoyed their set enough to go the sideshow. I thought Isaac seemed much angrier on Saturday...

    It looks like you were standing just to the side of where I was. You must be talking about the giant in the black t-shirt who was calling out for Florida. He suddenly arrived right in front of and completely blocked my view. After a couple of songs, I got fed up and asked him to move over a bit, so it's probably partially my fault you couldn't see...

  • At April 06, 2008 , Blogger Wayne said...

    Jess, if you did enjoy MM, can I recommend getting a copy of Moon and Antarctica, a truly great album.

    I actually think it was a guy in a blue t-shirt who annoyed me. There did seem to be an idiot element there, but thankfully most of the crowd were OK, so I ended up having a great night.

  • At June 29, 2008 , Anonymous SS said...

    Im going tonight 6/29/08!! Charlottesville Virginia (outdoor Venue)! Bought 3 tickets and taking my friends with me. I would really like to hear "Never Ending Math Equation", "Broke", "Cowboy Dan", "3rd Planet", "I came as a Rat", and "3 Inch Horses". But then again, I will be happy just being there.


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