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Mogwai : Barrowlands, Glasgow, 19/10/2003
Author: Peter Liddle
Published: 14/10/2003



You know you've been to a good concert when you come out with a stupid grin on your face, and then you get annoyed at other people talking about it because you feel like it's your experience and yours only, and there's just not more to say. Every time I've seen Mogwai, I've ended up like this-so impressed that I will happily denounce any other music in the world as inferior, and wonder just why anyone else would bother to try and make music when we have Mogwai to listen to. It's something that tinitus the next day , of course, really takes the shine off

A common criticism against Mogwai is a moan of "I could play that". This is curiously often coupled with an alternative argument that their music is "just a load of deliberately complex weird stuff." Some detractors complain that Mogwai's music is too simple and repetitive, and a one-trick horse with its quiet-loud song structure. Others, however, think it too complex, its many parts, unconventional time signatures and noise sections all clogging up the "real tunes". I find, however, that music is about the net effect, rather than how it is achieved. The sheer euphoria of hearing exactly what you might expect but far louder is sometimes just what is needed to create emotion and music that affects the listener. Mogwai are masters at creating feelings and sounds of this order.

Opening with 'Yes! I am a Long Way from Home', everything seems in place. The first tune comes out like a statement of intent, with wry smiles on the faces of the band as they ease into the rhythm, slowly adding additional parts, then dropping back to a single bass line, before climaxing in an explosion of distortion and large squealing riffs. Every new rush of sound from Mogwai is met with hands being flung in the air, screams and cheers, and applause. The gradual build-up of rhythm and sound in the songs works like a slow-motion version of a perfectly executed hard house buildup, except there's so much harmony that it's not just a simple mind trick that excites people. It's a combination of anticipation and beaut,y and expectation and emotion that is hard to find elsewhere.

Songs from the new album 'Happy Songs for Happy People' are well received .The beautiful vocoder line from 'Killing All the Flies" floats about perfectly amidst layers of distortion and noise. The short and sweet 'Golden Porsche' highlights Mogwai's ability to produce something simple but profound. The main set is closed with 'Ratts of the Capital', its final majestic line played out to a quietly humbled crowd.

Two encores provide the ultimate fix - 'Xmas Steps' and 'Mogwai fear Satan' followed by a terrifyingly loud and violent 'My Father My King'. Three songs from three different Mogwai records, all proving just how effective their songs can be. Two melodies, lines from a Jewish folk song, are all it takes in 'My Father My King' to provide a devastatingly effective ending to the set. It begins with a quiet, surging first part, moves on to a more insistent second melody, which is followed by a thundering bass and then ends in a massively noisy ear-bleeding crescendo.. The last present that Mogwai leave us with is the relief felt when all the screaming amps are turned off and silence floods into the room. This is followed shortly afterwards by wild applause and the aforementioned smiles.

Mogwai are important to me and many others because they can deliver a sound unlike any other band. Some people love this and some people hate it. Some people don't want to like a band that seem to be cheating them out of "real tunes". Luckily, from the kinds of smiles after the amps are turned off, I'm not alone in thinking that it's a great thing to have people making music like that.








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