thanks to malcolm, james howe and alan. is the order correct?
the popularity of glaswegian guitar-stranglers mogwai has to be one of the
greater mysteries of the modern world. formed in 1996, the band have achieved one mercury nomination (for 1999's 'come
on die young') and perform in moderately sizable venues. they rose to prominence as leaders of the post-rock movement,
a musical trend that involves stripping rock of its vocals, choruses, tunes and melodies - indeed, everything that makes
the music enjoyable.
this is, as even their most ardent supporter would admit, a love-or-hate situation. walking into a
mogwai gig is like attending some bizarre religious cult, where hymnal post-industrial
dirges are dispensed by shaven-headed young men to a crowd of (almost entirely) shaven-headed young men. for the
refusenik, making sense of mogwai's deathly, deadening "music" is like trying to
understand why people spend whole days numbed by daytime tv. hypnotic or plain dull?
the band don't so much play songs as a succession of intros (quiet, painstaking) and endings (crescendos of guitar noise),
with nothing in between. the show is a visual spectacle, with what could be red searchlights surveying a fast-moving
backdrop of flashed-up figures. however, this merely serves to highlight how monochrome and unadventurous the music is.
although the band see themselves in the noise-terrorist tradition of glenn branca and sonic youth, their leaden dirges are
actually closer to 1980s goth/pomp rockers the mission and fields of the nephilim. unthinkably, the 20-minute
'my father, my king' would be improved by rightfully derided mission-man wayne hussey wailing about bats and gloom.
an improvement is threatened when a flute, violin and piano are introduced, but these instruments, all played in minor
keys, soon sink into the depressing quagmire. during one particularly mind-numbing instrumental, a female fan rushes from
the crowd, trips over a sleeping body, bangs her head against the wall and collapses, before being carried to safety by
security. one poor lost soul, at least, is saved.