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- Mogwai »
In 2008, Mogwai find themselves in a rather curious position. In a world where Fuck Buttons are the new face of British noise, Explosions In The Sky are curating ATP and doom metal raises a fist supreme, what need of the belligerent five piece from Glasgow? The answer is in the question. Where Fuck Buttons, for all their brilliance, would in a blind tasting be deemed to have come from the US, Mogwai could only have come from Britain – with apologies to the cross of St Andrew stuck to the amp. They took the earnestness of Slint and Sonic Youth out for a night on the lash, guided it down a back alley for a leathering, and left it bleeding into its ripped jeans on the floor. Earnestness was then replaced as a drinking buddy by defiant sense of escapism, and the pure and simple fun of building slow ponderous melodies into a hulking mogodon noise.
At tonight’s one-off show, Mogwai are certainly aided in their mission by the perfect sound emanating from the Queen Elisabeth Hall’s magnificent PA, which makes this venue the best space in which to encounter a difficult racket in all the capital. The clarity of sound ensures that Mogwai’s ability to both send delicate shivers down the spine and shatter the solar plexus with a jackhammer is brilliantly realised.
This is noise at its most eloquent, most heartfelt. It takes the drippy whale music of Sigur Rós, harpoons it, and drags a bloody corpse onto the deck for evisceration and a lunch of blubber. It lines up the dross of the quivering post-rock genre with whom Mogwai were so unfairly lumped, and sprays it, laughing, with hot lead.
Because they’re British, and not Americans and therefore tainted with an alternative culture that has failed to realise that you should never, ever trust a hippy, you don’t get the feeling that Mogwai’s music could be used to soundtrack a yoga class. Neither are they, like some of their American counterparts, hitting you with noise that’s lumbered with a holier-than-thou sense of their own musicianship and self-importance. Mogwai like to take the piss far too much for that, Stuart Braithwaite mocking their tour manager upon the collapse of Halifax FC, or with new, daft song titles like ‘I Love You, I’m Going To Blow Up Your School’ _and _‘I’m Jim Morrison, I’m Dead’.
Ah yes, that new music – ‘Batcat’, soon to be a single, suggests that Mogwai are about to hit us with a scabrous beast of an album that pulls their unholy vessel back toward their love of metal. A cymbal tings, quietly, then the quartet of guitarists leap forward upon their pedals and the QEH starts wobbling. It’s notable that none of the big guns – ‘My Father My King’, ‘Xmas Steps’, ‘Mogwai Fear Satan’ – are brought out tonight – they don’t need to be. This is all about proving that Mogwai, once more, have the bit between their teeth and should be underestimated at your peril. Ten years ago they were at the vanguard of the slew of Scottish acts pouring south across the border to free us from the blighted landscape of post-Britpop, parochial England. Now, ten years on, they’re here to lead the counterattack against the Yanks. Their return is a welcome one.
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