kids will be skeletons, mogwai fear satan, hunted by a freak, stop coming to my house
and helicon 1 were broadcast on bbc radio 1's 'session in scotland' show on 29th may 2003.
thanks to dave muir for these scans of the 'evening times' review by doug johnstone.
MOGWAI BLUNT THEIR PUNK EDGE
mogwai have been playing a game of steady darts for the last seven years. their initially
uncompromising sound - largely instrumental swathes of woozy guitar ambience punctuated
regularly by searing repetitive blasts of concentrated riffing, delivered studiously by five
stoney-faced young men in kappa tracksuits - was never an obvious recipe for success but
scored highly with other young men who were equally serious about their intake of
bludgeoning guitars, so that against the odds, mogwai has become one of scotland’s most
consistently successful bands.
but there remains a nagging feeling that they have touched as many people as they are
going to. their left-field soundtracks have been paid the highest compliment - scores of
imitators - and now that drone isn’t punky any more.
mogwai’s soon to be released fourth album, the ironically titled happy songs for happy
people, is their lightest in mood to date but only represents the slightest shift in mo.
they have branched out in other ways though, principally by starting their own label -
rock action - and their recent signings kling klang, who do punk wildness with synthesisers,
were last night’s pleasingly unhinged support act.
mogwai opened with skeletons, a pretty piece of nouveau psychedelia in the tranquil vein
of spiritualized. the old favourite mogwai fear satan was a bruiser of an epic, with tribal
drums, glitter ball embellishment and the kind of ear-bleedingly loud coda which could
frighten the uninitiated.
the majority of this audience were braced for this deluge and also for the moment when
xmas steps, another trusty warhorse, broke into its spunky rock staccato.
mogwai have been criticised for choosing predictable set lists, to which their riposte is
that they only recycle the best of their catalogue.
one more valid complaint is their lack of stage presence, or more specifically (because
there isn’t much you can do about a charisma void) the absence of any kind of alternative
even though their textured instrumentals could happily be complemented by some form of
slide show, they stuck to prosaic lighting configurations and the occasional bog-standard
without any recreational distractions, mogwai’s numerous amps-up-to-11 moments began to
bleed into one, so that even a snatch of effects-drenched vocal or the exotic twang of their
closing adaptation of a jewish prayer sounded like sonic manna.
good last night in edinburgh, they were. i missed kling klang due
to flatmate procrastinating about whether to go or not, and deciding not to
just in time for me to get completely soaked on the 5 minute walk to the bus
station. way to go edinburgh for moving their bus station to such a
ridiculous place too. i ended up leaving half way through the encore
and still nearly missed my bus.
other than that, i had a great time. i found a box to stand on [okay, a
raised seating area] so i could actually see the stage and enjoyed almost
all the set. 'xmas steps' and 'mogwai fear satan' with precision loudness and, er,
'2 rights..' i think [am definitely getting old, cannot remember any song
titles at all] was just fantastic, with trouser flapping electronic bass
stuff at the end, and then they just *stopped* and walked off. i was really
hoping they wouldn't come back and do their usual boring encore but it looks
like they did.
best bit for me was stuart's beaming 'this is my fantastic loud guitar solo!
i rock! woo!' face when they played, er, that one off the new album with the
really loud guitar solo. and stuart's comedy moustache, obviously.
would have liked more more quiet songs. more songs really. it all seemed
really short though they played for well over an hour.