Mar 5, 2009

Mogwai @ Enmore Theatre

What Mogwai do, they do extremely well. They don't have a huge amount of tricks up their sleeves, but their skill in playing muscular, haunting, LOUD instrumental rock is rarely surpassed. Their show Wednesday night at the Enmore Theatre was another example of the band that always gives value for money, always offering a memorable night out in the company of guitars. Guitars that trembled, wailed and exploded with a full and mighty force. It was soft, it was loud, it was spellbinding. Ultimately, it was great.

I missed the Scottish lads on their last visit in 2006, so a few years had passed since I had seen them last. Another solid album under their belt would mean that they had a huge repertoire of songs in which to delve into and so it proved. They gave us a slew of songs off "The Hawk Is Howling", with bits and pieces off their other releases. The show started with a new one in "I'm Jim Morrison, I'm Dead", one of many songs to incorporate the stylish piano work of Barry Burns. Burns' piano was there on most tracks, only taking the guitar on about four songs. The opening section of the show was a display of the quiet beauty of Mogwai. "Friend Of The Night" was beautifully rendered, whilst the distorted vocals on "Hunted By A Freak" were eerie and engaging. We even received "Cody", one of the band's few songs with full and clear vocals through out. Stuart Braithwaite did a lovely job here. If an oldie in "Summer" showed that things were about to get loud, then a newer one in "I Love You, I'm Going To Blow Up Your School" completed the job. My inner makings started to shake at this point, as the band displayed their trademark soft/loud dynamic that continues to work so well. This dynamic song was one of six that they played from "The Hawk Is Howling", but it was surprising to only hear one song from "Happy Songs For Happy People" and not one at all from "Rock Action". Never mind, it was all pretty great. This was confirmed when they played the epic "Ex-Cowboy", a slice from my favourite album "Come On Die Young". This song is impossibly powerful and beautiful. I was entranced by its majesty.

The band finished us off with a sonic blast. Yes, "Like Herod" is as loud as ever. The point where it goes from whisper death quiet to jet engine loud still shocks the senses. My ear drums are now located somewhere on Enmore Road. Please return if you find them. "Batcat" followed immediately. Perhaps the heaviest song that Mogwai have ever recorded to date, its thumping bass line shook my insides to the core. They left with rapturous applause, but there was more. A two song encore completed by their epic classic in "Mogwai Fear Satan". This song is purely and completely great. A song for the ages. My only complaint was that the beautiful opening section was drowned in feedback. Sometimes noise can be too much noise. But we still received the serene moment where the song comes to a beautiful quietness, before exploding into another sonic universe. I was not only impressed by the band's power and skill, but by the crowds' respect and devotion. A pin could literally be heard dropping. The ending of the song was left to John Cummings and Stuart Braithwaite to close in a wall of duelling guitars, the sounds continuing long after the two men had left the stage. Mogwai are a functioning, well oiled machine. They play with barely no flicker of interest in each other and yet their music is intrinsically and totally intertwined, leaving a sound that is beautifully judged and formed. On this night, ear drums were tested, we were drowned in sound and we were truly thankful to five men. Scotland delivered.

Set List
I'm Jim Morrison, I'm Dead
Friend Of The Night
Scotland's Shame
Hunted By A Freak
I Love You, I'm Going To Blow Up Your School
The Precipice
Thank You Space Expert
Like Herod

Yes! I Am A Long Way From Home
Mogwai Fear Satan


  • At March 05, 2009 , Anonymous Paul said...

    Great review and an amazing gig. It was my first Mogwai experience - I wondered why so many people around me were wearing ear plugs. No need to wonder that anymore. It left me feeling mentally and physically blitzed (in a good way).


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