Monday, 25 June 2012

Live Show - Mogwai

Where: New York City
Venue: Webster Hall

The stage was set for what would be Mogwai's third attempt at playing the historic Webster Hall in the East Village, NYC. A smooth apology by adopted frontman Stuart Braithwaite took the audience in awe. as the band played this very venue the previous night, making up for both the rescheduled show and the canceled show. Balam Acab warmed the audience with his sweet oceans, and it was left to the Bowery Presents DJ to soothe the hungry Mogwai fans with DrumNBass and electronica before the Scots took to the stage.

They started with 'Yes! I Am A Long Way From Home', a fan favourite since the early days with it being the opening track on debut album Mogwai Young Team. Excellent guitar work surrounds the room with Stuart Braithwaite and John Cummings starting early with their crossover guitar riffs at either end of the stage. Then, 'White Noise' rampaged. Stuart's movements were incredible, and as for the sound... Superb. Layers upon layers of guitar, bass, drums and keys changed the atmosphere altogether. That velvet opener fades, as White Noise took the audience by the balls.

'I Know You Are, But What Am I?' became the first of many Happy Songs For Happy People tracks to be played that night. Stuart played the effect pedals and during the louder, more abrasive segments, he twisted those knobs like the pro he is. Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will took Mogwai out of their shell  in 2011. One of those highlight tracks, 'San Pedro', made an immediate effect on the Webster Hall audience. The guitar drones and a simplistic rock attitude make this track one of the fastest Mogwai tracks to date. We were then blown away by 'Mexican Grand Prix'. The live interpretation makes the studio recording sound messy, because live, the bass, the soaring guitars and the atmospheric electronic beat work a treat.

'Stanley Kubrick' made a surprise appearance on the setlist. The guitar effects and layered riffs make this track even more special live, than on the 1999 EP, EP. It's used as a lovely few minutes of bliss and tranquility before the Happy Songs For Happy People closer 'Stop Coming To My House' takes effect. All the power and energy of planet Earth is not enough to combat the sheer force of this track. The drumming is fresh and abrasive, while the guitars discover the meaning of layers. Stuart and John play very differently, but play together equally. This track is the epiphany of Mogwai's career. It's heard when defining 'fight or flight', the hair on my back was truly, standing tall during this moment of beauty.

A little break from the norm gave us two tracks from Mogwai's second album, Come On Die Young. 'Cody' being the elegant and synthetic track with Stuart's dreamy vocals. 'Ex-Cowboy' then plays tricks with time in a lengthy composition that passes ten minutes with excellent musicianship. They sounded great at this point in the gig, with all the buildups and magnificent segments of 'part 1', 'part 2' and 'part 3'. 'How To Be a Werewolf' acts as a warm-up for the following closing tracks. I personally feel this track was one of the weakest on Mogwai's 2011 album, but live, it felt complete. It's typical Mogwai and sounds alike many others on previous albums, it just doesn't do the job I think.

'2 Rights Make 1 Wrong' was always  going to make an appearance at this gig, and by golly what an impact it made. We loved the synthesized voice and the brilliant guitar riffs. Drumming has been taken care of efficiently throughout the show, and the bass, as lazy and motionless as possible, sounds perfect. It's the best track on Rock Action by a long shot, and arguably one of the best Mogwai tracks. 'Ratts of The Capital' acted as the final track before the predicted encore break. What you get from Ratts of The Capital is an apocalyptic eight minute masterpiece. It's dynamic and the guitars are in full capacity with usual keyboardist and (in my opinion) the most important member of Mogwai, Barry Burns, taking to the stage with his additional guitar.

When the band returns, Barry picks up his guitar yet again... Meaning another one of those heavy guitar tracks, oh boy! This time round, we have Rano Pano, the loud and distinctive guitar track with soaring guitar drones with distortion. This track is above all enjoyable, and Mogwai sure know how to thrill an audience. 'I'm Jim Morrison, I'm Dead' thunders through with the heavy buildups and the brilliant guitar layers created by John and Stuart. These two seriously know how to shred on guitar and to most peoples amazement, this track is more technical than first thought. The enigmatic closer this time around is infact, the only track from Mr Beast, 'We're No Here'. This is also the closing track from Mr Beast, and for good reason. It's loud, it's fast and it's furious. Mogwai at their best, and this type of closer is needed because we have no 'Like Herod', no 'Mogwai Fear Satan' and no 'Helicon 1'.

Webster Hall served as an outstanding venue. The acoustics stood out, and the crowd of many took Mogwai into their hearts as I did. Tracks ranged from early Mogwai to current Mogwai. They've passed the test of time if you ask me, and the eight to ten minute transitions of Happy Songs For Happy People will forever live in my memory. As Stuart bluntly put it after every track. Thanks, Thank You... Cheers.