Múm and Part ChimpEdit this event
After partying on a remote scottish isle, Mogwai's arrival in London looked set to prove to a packed audience that they remain one of the few truly awe-inspiring, noisy and original live acts still around.
There were some clues of what was to come in the two excellent support acts. Part chimp welcomed us with an all-out blast of intense fast-paced hardcore guitar action, combining the stop-start dynamics of Mogwai's** math-rock heritage with angry impassioned vocals and booming guitar and bass attack.
Icelandic post-rockers Mum offered a very different sound, but one whose soft intensity clearly influences the headline band equally in their quieter moments. Constantly swapping instruments, they build up a minimalist soundscape from glitchy drum loops, keyboards, strings, guitar, accordion, melodica and heavenly vocal harmonies.
When Mogwai finally drifted onto the stage it was to the sound of a hard-edged techno loop. Entitled "Sinewave" from their new Rock Action album, it shows the band's willingness to experiment with the song formats from their older material, building their quirky drum attack into the emotional cascade of white noise and rushing guitar melodies that we know and love. They followed with some old favourites, including Stanley Kubrick and the excellent Christmas Steps, which still manages to take an experienced audience by surprise when the sudden bouts of rhythmic noise kicks in over quiet haunting guitar riffs.
All the indications are that "Rock Action" will take Mogwai to new even greater heights. The new songs we heard on the night not only challenged the band's predominantly instrumental stance with vocals, but used lots of strings and brass to great effect. Live, it seems every song pushes the limits of volume and sheer intensity of sound - sometimes you can hear more emotion in the melodies and white noise than vocals could ever express. Having said that, Stuart sings to great effect on at least two of the new tracks ("What would you do if you saw spaceships over Glasgow?", he asks) although always in addition to an existing instrumental soundscape. Gruff from the Super Furry Animals also made a brief appearance to sing in Welsh on "Dial: Revenge", a quieter track (if live Mogwai could ever be described as 'quiet') with beatiful strings and guitar patterns backing him up.
After a great encore the band end with their trademark 10 minutes of feedback. Sonic terrorists of the first order, Mogwai** are one of the few live bands around that can simultaneously make you want to jump around, cry and cower in a dazed, deafened awe. Ignore them at your peril!
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