Mogwai - Special Moves/Burning
Mogwai have never been a band to do things by halves and that trend continues of this, their first live album. As well as the eleven track CD we are treated to an accompanying DVD, moodily shot in black and white by Vincent Moon and Nat Le Scouarnec. Recorded over the course of three steamy April nights in Brooklyn Special Moves/Burning is an attempt to catch Scotland’s greatest export at the height of their powers, and up to a point, it succeeds.
As with their most recent album, The Hawk is Howling, Special Moves opens with ‘I’m Jim Morrison I’m Dead’ an absolute master class in the quiet/loud shtick for which they have becomes renowned. As they move through a set that spans their career it becomes clear that Mogwai are, and have been for well over a decade, one of the best bands on the planet. From early classics like ‘Mogwai Fear Satan’ through to the more recent ‘I Love You, I’m Going To Blow Up Your School’ you can’t help but wish you were at the gig and therein lies the only real problem with this release.
The music is brilliant, no question, and there are glimpses of the ferocious nature of the live beast that is Mogwai, especially on the album’s brutal finale of ‘Like Herod’ and ‘Glasgow Mega-Snake’ and, on the film, ‘Scotland’s Shame’ and ‘Batcat’. Despite that you can’t help feeling that something is lost in trying to record the visceral power, bone-crunching volume and retina burning light show that one experiences at a Mogwai gig. Perhaps it is the fact that if it is all getting too much too bear, with a CD or DVD, you can simply turn down the volume, an option not open you if you are stood ten feet from the stage.
The simple solution to this problem is to immerse yourself in the world of Mogwai by buying and digesting every album they have ever made. You will then be ready to venture to one of their gigs so you can experience first hand the sheer brilliance of their live shows, an experience that is merely hinted at on Special Moves/Burning.