Mogwai - The Junction, Cambridge
Quiet, LOUD, quiet, LOUD. It may not be the traditional way to sell a band or a sound, but it's what post-rock has been based on ever since a bunch of guys in Glasgow came to together and formed Mogwai back in 1996. Ten years on, they've continued to develop their sound into something truly unique and, at times, breathtaking. Tonight they showcase tracks from their latest album which they themselves have dubbed as getting back to their roots.
As you can imagine, things start quietly with Yes! I Am a Long Way from Home from their debut album. It still sounds as fresh and, once it reaches it pinnacle, as impressive as when I first encountered it almost 10 years ago. The crowd, at this point at least, as quiet and the PA is amazing - you can pick out each of the three guitars and the keyboards all deep in the mix - it's not just some random wall of noise. We're also treated to a version of Ithica 27ø9, one of their early recordings which the crowd really respond to - looking at the set lists of the current tour they've certainly been mixing up their back catalogue, which is refreshing to see. Suddenly they're promoting the new record as Acid House from Mr. Beast is played to an enthralled crowd but comes across a little bit too technical and a touch too quiet for what's proceeded it. There's a slight disconnection between us, the crowd, and the band. Stuart Braithwaite seems to realise this and engages with us, telling us the football score "If we're interested", before launching into Hunted By a Freak proving that they're no one-trick-pony it's driven more by the piano/keyboard piece rather than the guitars, which are low, more droning than usual. We're about two thirds of the way through the set and the sound has been noticeably loud, but something now changes...
On the previous numbers they’ve seemed just a little disconnected from the crowd, but a switch seems to flick. We now get the most impressive sequence of music I've heard live for a while; Christmas Steps, Like Herod and Glasgow Mega-Snake are played without pause. This is an awesome aural assault - the sound seems to have gone up to 11 - I can feel my internal organs vibrating, trying to find their natural resonance, battling with each other against the onslaught. This is why we're here. This wall of noise is played against a backdrop of flashing lights and strobe affects - every crash of guitars matched by an explosion of light. And then it's over. The obligatory walk off and back on before the encore which seems to do nothing more than stop the momentum. However, they return with You Don't Know Jesus and the immense We're No Here - a barrage of guitars which descends into an almost drum n bass squeal of white noise as the members leave the stage finally. Everyone seems rooted to the spot, unable to move, captivated by what has unfurled before them. And then it really is over.
Pictures courtesy of www.valerioberdini.com