bright light ! gigs

mogwai @ cafe de la danse, paris, france 14/05/2001


  • big e (new song)
  • you don't know jesus
  • xmas steps
  • helps both ways
  • stanley kubrick
  • helicon 2
  • ex-cowboy
  • secret pint
  • (punk rock sample)
  • 2 rights make one wrong


  • my father, my king (aborted)

    support from bardo pond. sold out.

    an eventful show (see below) and the first known live performance of 'big e' (eventually released in 2006 as 'black spider')

    thanks to nico, who commented that the new song was "calm, everyone playing", and benjamin, who described the song as "a song i did not know, which sounded quite a bit like the japanese 'untitled', but louder in the middle. beautiful beginning, anyway."

    the volume incident, and other comments

    thanks to arnaud guillet for this:

    i was just behind the soundboard. and there were two sound engineers, one for mogwai (i'll call him a) and one who worked for 'le café de la danse' (i'll call him b).

    there's a law in france which says that nobody can play above 105db, and there's also a curfew in paris: 0db after 22h30. during 'my father my kingdom', sound engineer b decided to turn the sound down a little because the 'decibelometer' indicated 106db. b didn't ask a. that was the start of the fight between a and b. a guy from the audience who was far away from the fight decided to go to the sounddesk and hit b. silly guy.

    mogwai decided at first to play louder but the fight between a and b began to be very violent. so mogwai stopped playing. stuart said we were in a fascist country with fascist laws...was it the best thing to say ??? if a had decided to turn down the sound just enough to go under 105 db, we would have heard the end of the song...

    there have been a lot of problems with the level of sound during shows in france (u2, ben harper, etc...), and the 'fascist' law is made principally to protect our hearing. i don't know who was right and who was not but i know that i'm not living in a fascist country.

    and to rich hughes (via john coburn) for this:

    the mogwai gig was going great until the second song of the encore, when a brawl started involving the band, an employee of the venue and a bunch of other guys. i'm not entirely sure how it started but i bloody well know how it finished. here's what happened:

    evening started well. rushed from lecture to bastille for quick tapas and ale; went to venue and caught bardo pond in middle of first song; indulged in a little smoke in the corner; drank 3 (three!) beers in the 20 minutes between bands; mogwai came on; first 5 songs belters. before 'xmas steps' (third song) stuart apologised in advance "in case it sounds a bit half-arsed" [it didn't] due to "sound problems." rest of the gig sounded good to me despite intermittent exploding noises (which i'm not sure were supposed to be there: the band looked confused - but they sounded quite good anyway) from the main speakers. then during the second song of the encore, various members of the band started gesticulating at the blokes who stand at the side of the stage towards the mixing desk (the back of the venue was slanted with steps), and so obviously the whole audience turned round to see what was going on. there was some fat guy reaching over the desk trying to touch one of the controls, and the mixing guy was struggling to keep him off. during a quiet bit in the song, with all the band glaring at the ongoing struggle, stuart says to the audience "who wants some fucking noise?" everyone cheered. at the time i didn't realise what he meant, but the song peaked to mind blowingly loud crescendo anyway, before stuart smashed his guitar into the bass drum and charged up to the melee (by that time there was another fat guy wrestling with the mogwai guy). stuart started yelling at him "don't touch my friend!" so i think he saw something i didn't. he was soon joined by all the band, yelling and pushing. when the brawl calmed down the audience started chanting 'mogwai', and the band returned to the stage. they each took turns to say what a fucking hole the cafe de la danse was, how they'd treated the band like shit as soon as they'd arrived, and how we should all "never come back here." i won't have to.

    the lights came on and about five minutes later a representative of the venue came on stage and explained what had happened (basically, mogwai are too loud: and the venue staff weren't going to increase the volume just because the fans, or the band, or any other c***, wanted it). he said in france there is a law that live music must not exceed 105 decibels, and we should all be jolly grateful we don't live in switzerland as there it's only 95 db's! (there are evidently a whole lot of other reasons we don't live in switzerland). naturally this was greeted with a torrent of abuse, more chanting and an irate braithwaite back on stage to slag off the cafe de la danse, paris venues in general and french law, then vaguely asserting that a country who abolished the royalty shouldn't allow "fascist scum" to decide how to listen to music. luckily the guy in charge of the venue (stood next to him) blatantly didn't understand english; but he had the last word by saying he had the same problem "every night" (that's bollocks) and we should all go home.

    well. until that point (practically the end in any case) the gig was wondrous. every song a winner (the last song of the main set was "two wrongs make one right" and it was breathtaking - about fifteen minutes long - and without doubt the best piece of new music i've heard since last november). bardo pond entertained despite looking like a support group for newly redundant provincial primary school art teachers (or hippies, as they are more commonly known). and mogwai announced another gig for paris in july, this time at a bigger venue. i hope for the sake of french mogwai fans that there aren't the same problems, as it would probably be the last time they played here.

    this is what is meant by rock action. mogwai take no prisoners.

    from benjamin:

    gorgeous flute on 'helicon 2', thank you barry. i think Stuart has a new guitar pedal for 'ex-cowboy' - terrific. there was a cello player for 'stanley kubrick', 'helicon 2', 'secret pint' and '2rights make 1 wrong' i think.

    about the "incident"... i think it's very sad for the audience, because we could not have the whole (and wonderful) 'jewish hymn' and there are lots of mogwai fans in france. i hope they will come back and perhaps not only in paris? it's true, the gig was not so loud. i mean, the way mogwai usually play, it's sometimes too strong, but it's the way we like them, don't we? this venue didn't want to risk anything, and i think it's really too much, because there was only one song left... i did not know this fench law, but i'm sure i saw some gigs in france which were louder than this one.

    when the band saw the sound engineers in trouble, they didn't stopped, but they played slower. and then they tried to play the loudest they could, with the three guitars (stuart, john and barry) that was quite strange. it sounded like the "wrath of mogwai", especially because the band were playing 'my father my king', and it sounds a bit religious.

    from tristan:

    some fighting broke out in paris during mogwai's encore, between mogwai's sound engineer (or tour manager) and employees at le café de la danse. when the band's sound engineer began to push the meters up and the sound was fully blasting far beyond the 110 decibels limit, people from le café de la danse asked him to lower the sound. confronted by the uncompliant sound engineer, they had to force their way to the mix table, and it was all a mess. you could see those two people punching and kicking their way to the meters. the audience was part amused, part shouting at the guys, until the band deserted the stage to take part in the struggle (quoting: "don't you fucking touch me...").

    the gig ended on mogwai crashing a chair in the drumset. later, people came to explain that the location was employing 11 people whose job was on the line if the band refused to respect the sound limit. when asked about it, the merchandising guy felt sorry about this, objecting that the band had been disregarding these kind of limitations many times before without having encountered any trouble...

    the gig was damn good anyway.