bright light ! gigs

Mogwai @ Metro, Chicago IL, USA 20/06/12

Poster by Crosshair


Thanks Joanna

  • Yes! I Am A Long Way From Home
  • Killing All The Flies
  • White Noise
  • Mexican Grand Prix
  • Stop Coming To My House
  • Rano Pano
  • Ratts Of The Capital
  • I'm Jim Morrison, I'm Dead
  • Ex-Cowboy
  • Auto Rock
  • 2 Rights Make 1 Wrong
  • New Paths to Helicon pt. 1


  • Hunted By A Freak
  • How To Be A Werewolf
  • Batcat

    Thanks Matt

    Supported by Balam Acab and Umberto


    Thanks Jared


    from Barry on Twitter:

    possibly best show of the tour and the last one too = good job.

    from Jared:

    last night's show was really, really good. mogwai played with a refreshing intensity. highlights? where to begin. from the opening three songs, and let me say that long way from home is a perfect opener, to stuart playing the middle portion of the night's closer, batcat, with his corona bottle, it was all perfect. martin even came out before the encore and poured shots of patron for the crowd from their personal stash, this being the final night of the tour and all. musical highlights? two rights was fantastic: melodic, loud, and simply beautiful. ex-cowboy was equally so. in fact, the final punch of the set, jim morrison, ex-cowboy, auto rock, two rights, and helicon one, was brilliant. it flowed. this setlist served to showcase the ride on which mogwai was taking us.

    the crowd was awesome as well. though very exuberant in their whistling and catcalls as songs began, and a little too early to cheer at the end of a song, there was little or no talking during songs. it was by far the quietest crowd i've experienced at a mogwai show. after nearly two hours of music, i left the metro in a bit of disbelief at just how amazing a band that i thought i knew could be. they continue to rock, to amaze, to surprise, and to delight.

    from Bear Hill:

    location: Chicago, Illinois. specifically the club Metro
    date: Wednesday June 20th
    time: somewhere around 1030pm Central time
    occasion: final date of Mogwai's 2012 North American tour
    protagonists: myself and my gal, a Canadian couple using Mogwai's tour as an excuse to visit some fine (Toronto), not so fine (downtown Pontiac) and fantastic (Chicago) locales on our roadtrip vacation.

    Setting: A large concert theatre, in the Wrigleyville neighbourhood of Chicago, scant blocks from the home of the ne'er do well Cubs of baseball lore. We wait in the dimly lit confines of Metro amongst the crowd gathered to witness the closing act of Mogwai's second leg of North American touring behind their latest opus 'Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will'. This is our third consecutive show and our sleep deprivation is being kept in check by our excitement at catching Mogwai at the top of their game. The crowd swells in size nearing the headliner's anticipated set time and people subtlety and sometimes not so subtlely jockey for their desired position for the show. The generous gaps of personal space enjoyed during opening act Balam Acab's downtempo set are now nonexistent on the floor as the 1100 capacity club approaches it's limit. Industrial strength wall mounted fans keep the crowd cool despite the oppressive heat outside. Looking above the fans we see the balcony lined with revellers enjoying a hawk's eye vantage point of the venue's spacious stage. We arrived late due to an erroneously printed door time of 9pm (doors opened at 8pm) but still managed to take up residence along the stage left security barrier in front of guitarist Stuart Braithwaite's gear setup.

    (enter band from stage right, led by the aforementioned Braithwaite) The crowd responds to the band's entrance with much aplomb. Stuart appears pleased as punch to be in Chicago and with a cheery wave he offers a "hello Chicago! It's great to be back at the Metro" in a thick Scottish brogue. The remaining four members take up their assigned posts for set opener 'Yes! I Am A Long Way From Home'. Dominic Aitchison's bassline for the 'Young Team' classic is recognized instantly by the crowd and the show is off to a beautiful start.

    Braithwaite leads the way into 'Killing All The Flies' with his now patented guitar intro. Barry Burn's vocodered singing and lovely key work fill the room with an alien warmth and once this song's climax has ended there is zealous applause from the faithful throng as Braithwaite responds with his trademark 'thank you very mu...'

    'White Noise' follows as the evening's first offering from the new album. Due to our proximity to Stuart's setup, we are quite surprised by how well we are picking up the riffs being laid down by guitarist John Cummings from the other side of the stage. Stooped over his guitar with his head turned floor ward he seemingly creates his noise textures with odd shapings of his mouth and brings them to life through his vast array of effects pedals.

    A synthesized drum beat ushers 'Mexican Grand Prix' to the spotlight, much earlier in the setlist than other shows we've been to but neither I or my gal mind as she begins to respond to the pulsing synth and basslines flooding the room and I become transfixed by the different guitar parts being played by Braithwaite, including an effect to simulate the second vocal of the song. Burn's handles the vocal duties handily as the wind generated by the fans blows dry ice smoke across the stage. The strobes and video that were present for this song last year are not around this time but the band's tightness of presentation now provides more than enough krautrock action to suffice.

    The gentle ambience that opens 'Stop Coming To My House' provides the perfect canvas for Martin Bulloch's cool and efficient drumming style. As the song rises and falls back to quietude it is his stick work acting as guide through this quick cosmic journey. The fadeout to the track would normally give rise to another track of similar mood such as 'Stanley Kubrick', but tonight the band has other plans. For the next seven songs the band will beautifully bludgeon and dynamically devastate the crowd with varying levels of volume and intensity.

    Barry joins the ranks of the guitar army for the first time this evening for a scorching version of 'Rano Pano'. The applause for the maelstrom brought forth by the three axe attack hasn't even ended by the time he is seated once again behind his keys as Stuart starts picking away at the opening strains of 'Ratts Of The Capital'. I look to my gal and we pass a silent and devious grin to each other in anticipation for the thunderous cacophony that lies ahead. The rhythm section and keys undulate as the song progresses, and John and Stuart layer levels of guitar noise to ever growing peaks until Barry rises from behind his Berlinian bunker of keyboards and computers. He is not quick to strap on the second bass but once he is plugged in, he locks in with Aitchison to bring the noise to an even more improbable level. Braithwaite grins demonically from the stage and offers a metallic riff as the song begins its descent from the heights the band has built. By the end of the song I look around and see many onlookers with spent looks from the sonic journey. As I lean in toward my gal she elatedly exclaims 'that was even better than in Toronto!' and I'm happy to see her excitement for one of my favourite songs.

    The final five songs assault the crowd with varying techniques. 'I'm Jim Morrison, I'm Dead' is greeted with much fanfare and the rhythm section really shines throughout. 'Ex-Cowboy', the lone offering from 'Come On Die Young' uses swirling dervishes of ringing guitar crescendos to annihilate eardrums. The build up and bring down of this gem are exquisite with Stuart swaying throughout the white noise. 'Auto Rock' employs a slow burn technique to an explosive end. Some heads nod in unison with Martin's controlled bludgeons, others are hypnotized by John's hi-hat work. If I can be humoured one very minor complaint it would be that this song in all its grandeur was played three nights in a row with 'I Know You Are But What Am I?' going AWOL since the Montreal show. But I digress...Much to my delight Stuart starts into the opening of '2 Rights Make 1 Wrong' which just so happens to be my favourite Mogwai tune. This song really showcases how well the band bring their songs to life in the live setting. The subtlety, growth and flourishes that are demonstrated on the album version are built upon live and the arrangement toward the end of the song is changed to give the song an explosive plateau from which to come down from. Tonight's rendition wasn't quite as noisy as in the past with Stuart showing restraint during the feedback portion, but I did enjoy seeing Martin leave his seat behind the kit and hang out between amp stacks and watch the end of the song from that vantage point. Dominic and Stuart then swap instruments for a reading of 'Helicon 1'. Stuart takes a seat to pluck out the bassline and Dominic leads the three guitar surge to take us ethereally to a glorious end to the main set. The crowd is rapturous with applause and a well earned rest is enjoyed by the boys as they prepare for the encore.

    The main set played out so well that barring any surprise song showings the encore was almost an afterthought for me. I gave my prediction of 'Hunted By A Freak', 'How To Be A Werewolf' and 'Glasgow Megasnake' to my gal and I was 2 rights and 1 wrong. 'Hunted' was a safe bet as a crowd pleaser and its fluid sound would provide an easy transition to the uptempo 'Werewolf' which seemed to be a certainty since it wasn't played in the main set despite it being a nightly mainstay. I figured they'd end the show with an adrenaline charged facemelter like 'GMS" or 'Batcat' and put my money on the former. My bets were further informed by information I had gleaned during a brief conversation I had with Martin earlier in the evening during Umberto's set.

    I had asked if there was any chance of 'Sine Wave' or 'You're Lionel Richie' being played and I was a little disappointed when he answered in the negative on both accounts. I'd been hoping for a showing of 'Sine Wave' ever since its appearance at ATP in London but to no avail. Martin brought it up that they had played it there and seemed perplexed as to why they don't play it more often when I inquired. I also asked why 'Superheroes Of BMX' (the other song I've been pining to hear) isn't played anymore and he replied it is because Stuart requires some toy or appliance for his guitar part and the only two that he owned have gone missing so they never play it anymore. Sad. With a few of my many Mogwai mystery questions answered I shook his hand, wished him a good show and safe travels.

    For the encore Stuart offered a very warm thank you to the crowd, the crew and to tour opener 'Balam Acab' noting his tossing of swag to the crowd was a pretty classy move. He then pointed to the wristbands being sported by those in the front row of legal drinking age and clarified whether that meant they could drink or not. He then recounted how he had been at a tour ending show of Raekwon's and that he had shared the remainder of the liquor from the rider with the crowd since it was the end of his tour. Someone then brought out a partially full bottle of Patron tequila which Martin then started to pour very generous servings to be enjoyed by some very lucky fans. Stuart made sure the crowd knew exactly what this gesture meant what with the band being drink loving Scots and all. He also made light of John's disapproval of the gifting of perfectly drinkable liquor. I never drink at shows and as such did not have the required wristband to partake, however when Martin was finished his bartending duties and had poured the last drop of tequila I quickly requested the empty bottle to which he happily obliged with a smile.

    With the final barrage of 'Batcat' signalling the end of yet another stupifying Mogwai show my focus then shited to obtaining a setlist to commemorate the occasion. The sound guy offered his list to an enthusiastic gal and I asked if he could get Stuart's for me. He jokingly lifted Brathwaite's guitar toward me with a chuckle and then peeled the setlist from the stage. I thanked him and with bottle, setlist and gal in hand joined the mass heading out into the Chicago night. It was the perfect end to a great three nights on the road following Mogwai. Many cheers guys!