• Southampton
  • United Kingdom
  • University
  • 2006-03-30

Anticipation seemed to be fairly high for this one — Mogwai touring Mr Beast — the album that was meant to be truer to the volume and intensity that the band’s gigs offered but album’s didn’t anymore, so what did they do? They stepped up, in green Team Mogwai tracksuits, and ploughed through most of said new album — as loud, heavy and emotive as needed, when needed — and backed that up with some classics, like the true pros their reputation suggests.

As would make sense the gig started with “Auto Rock” the slow, broody, building epic from the start of the new album — its ascention into noise with slow hammering toms coming on strong. Although the gap before kicking into upbeat powerhouse “Glasgow Mega Snake” was inevitably longer live it’s not a bad thing to appreciate the opening track on its own merits as an individual track, although it does seem to work towards one thing and one thing only — the raucous storm of the next track — and on it came in a fine moment when Mogwai and fans joined in a mutual admiration of one of the main reasons the band recieve such admiration: sheer ferocious intensity. Whats interesting about their new material though is how this intensity is gained in such smaller forms; “Glasgow Mega Snake” is only about three-and-a-half minutes long, typical of their recent material.

the band still pose a real danger to your ears

After the storming start the band settled back into the cheerier strains of the advert-friendly “Hunted by a Freak” from Happy Songs For Happy People with its harmonious guitars and vocoded vocals. The rest of the set was mostly Mr Beast such as “Travel is Dangerous”, “Acid Food” and the particularly good “Folk Death ‘95” and “Friend Of The Night” both of which came across powerfully: the former bursting into joyfully brutal heavyness and the latter rising up with its emotional, epic piano. The band did drift into more old material as well, much to the crowd’s joy — most motably in ending the encore with an example of their earlier, lengthier excursions, “Mogwai Fear Satan”, off awesome debut Young Team, a song typical of a time back when although no less intelligent, the riffs and ideas were simpler, but notably the energy and effect was in huge abundance.

There’s no real complaints about this gig, Mogwai are seasoned professionals now and always put on a good show, and they’d helped themselves with the new album by giving them some more rousing noise to drench the crowd in. I had expected to hear the doomy onslaught of “We’re No Here”, my only issue, but i’d imagine that was played on other dates of the tour, but apart from that (and other obvious song wishes — “My Father My King” or “Xmas Steps” – but as Stuart Braithwaite told the crowd with a smile on his face as they shouted out song-titles “We don’t fdo requests”) it was all that was needed. The venue’s sound rig was up to the task too, dealing particularly well with the aggressive sound barrage which ended “Mogwai Fear Satan” and the evening, a noise which is testament to the fact that the band still pose a real danger to your ears. At their best Mogwai bombard you with crushing heaviness, and then switch into lilting loveliness, their combination and juxtapoisition of quiet/loud, major/minor, downbeat/upbeat has always been interesting and hasn’t lost anything, instead they’re just more mature and dynamic but still knowing how to break it down into primitive riff and noise. This gig made me think how if you like Mogwai you’re probably always going to like them, and though you might not think about them as much anymore, they’ve very probably just come along and grabbed your attention again.

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