Wednesday, May 17th, 2006
Mogwai! Hard to believe it’s been nearly four years since I saw them last, but it’s probably taken about that long for my hearing to recover. This time, of course, I’d have to be right up front as befits a slave to the lens so I was kind of hoping that the (relatively) kinder, gentler Mogwai evidenced on their last couple records would be in the house rather than the unrelenting volume addicts of the past.
Openers Torche from Miami, Florida I was wary of from the get go, not least of all because they were profiled in Magnet’s recent feature on really heavy new bands. As I think I’ve mentioned before, I have no metal in me. None at all. Torche, on the other hand, have more than enough metal in them to compensate. Their set was quite short but heavy like a ton of bricks. There was some hair whipping, some gutteral screaming and some crazy-ass musicianship. Entirely not my thing but still strangely compelling, like peeking into another world. A metal world.
Much is made of Mogwai’s quiet/loud/quiet thing but while it’s true that their earlier work was mainly about the visceral value of such dynamic shifts, they’ve really grown as songwriters and arrangers with the last three records. This was evidenced in the live show which, while still deafeningly loud at points (I love my earplugs), was far more selective about when and where it slammed the soundboard needles into the red. I actually think I preferred the quieter sections, where the tension and anxiety that really defines their sound churns and builds. Like many things in life, the anticipation can be much more powerful than the release. Since I’d never been as close to the front at their previous shows as I was last night, I’d never actually gotten a good look at the band while playing – it’s amazing how mellow they look up there while creating this intense sonic tumult – no guitar faces, no histrionics, just five relatively placid-looking Scotsmen going about their business of being an audiologist’s nightmare.
The set drew from all points in their discography, the centrepiece being a reworked “Mogwai Fear Satan”. Amazingly, but slowing down the BPM just a touch and using a slightly more delicate arrangement than the fourteen-minute piledriver on Young Team, they gave it a whole new level of complexity and personality. I mean, I LOVE the album version but it’s not the most multi-dimensional piece of music around. Another highlight was encore and show closer “Glasgow Mega-Snake” from Mr Beast. The opening riff is so unbelivably and the rest of the song just demolishes everything. I know that runs contrary to everything I said up to this point about maturity, tension and complexity and whatever… but MAN. ROCK. Mogwai fear nothing.
Look for photos… soon. Update: Or now! Quite the backlog piling up, I know. Mogwai brought their own lightshow with them so there were some really nice shots waiting to be processed. In the meantime, the Mr Beast website is a handy resource for following the trail of destruction that Mogwai are leaving in their wake across North America and Bradley’s Almanac has (almost) the whole of last week’s Boston show recorded and ready to download. And if that’s not enough, there’s a making-of the album video podcast available on iTunes (via Aversion), your can read this Chart piece about how the band felt about Mr Beast leaking and tune into 94.9FM (or online) around 9:10 EDT tonight to hear an interview with Mogwai recorded before last night’s show. And here’s some MP3s from last night’s performers as well as links to their MySpaces.
The new one from Lucinda Williams, titled Knowing at last check, has been given a November 7 release date.
Trespassers William have started a blog and so far have offered up some more interesting posts than the usual tour news and diaries. In this post, they discuss the many different track orders that Having went through and some of the reasonings behind each iteration.
Seattle P-I bids farewell to Justice League Unlimited. Though the final episode was available ages ago online, it’s only formally closing out the series now. But all is not lost for fans of Bruce Timm-styled DC animation – there’s a new Legion Of Super-Heroes series in the works. Yeah, I never liked the Legion much either.
24: Oh good, more nerve gas. I missed the nerve gas. Those were the good old days, simpler times. Oh, and Bierko’s got a big scar now, just like a Bond villain! Maybe my favourite moment of the season so far was the look on Jack’s face after Henderson told him his plan? GOLD. There’s your Emmy moment. Okay, big finish! Jack Bauer vs a submarine? Cool. oh, it’s non-nuclear? Oh. Well, I guess that’s kind of scary too. Alright – two hours two hours two hours to go. This all ends Victoria Day!
np – Drive-By Truckers / A Blessing And A Curse