bright light ! gigs

mogwai @ mv4, maida vale studios, london, uk 21/05/03


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  • hunted by a freak
  • kids will be skeletons
  • killing all the flies
  • stop coming to my house
  • golden porsche
  • ratts of the capital
  • i know you are but what am i?
  • helicon 1

    40 min set broadcast live on john peel's bbc radio 1 show (starting at 10.40pm) from the bbc's maida vale 4 studio.


    photos taken by rob strong, with disposable camera provided by iain eglinton.

    click on the images for larger versions.


    from rob strong:

    i'd never been in a 'proper' studio before. maida vale is an underground maze of narrow corridors containing seven studios. we only got to see a couple of them - mv1 is the studio used for orchestras and seemed enormous, mv4 was used last night and has enough floor space for the band to set up their gear outside a glass-screened studio where john peel was doing his show, and a balcony above for the audience.

    when we arrived, mogwai and their crew were watching the celtic vs porto uefa cup final in a lounge outside the studio. the game was into extra time, and peel's engineer and assistant kept coming through to check on progress so they could gauge when mogwai would be performing. as the game drew to its conclusion, the mood among the band seemed a little down, but there was a show to play and so we all moved through into the studio. at this stage, i was expecting to be given a few 'do's and don'ts' by the bbc staff, but they seemed happy to let us move around, take photos etc while the show was on-air.

    john peel handed over to the band around 10.40pm, and they went straight into 'hunted by a freak'. at this stage, the benefits of being on the balcony (and amongst such a small audience - 30 people or so?) were really apparent. all the little details of the performance that are impossible to see from in front of a stage, and the *massive* amount of equipment they had set up.

    a brief summary (sorry, i'm no music technologist...):

  • dom - bass, pedals, amp
  • martin - drum kit, loop/sample-triggering box
  • barry - keys, laptop, baby grand piano (!), guitar/bass rig
  • john - guitar rig, anything up to 10 pedals, keys, laptop
  • stuart - guitar rig, again a massive number of pedals
  • caroline - cello

    add in mics, stands, cabling, david jack's guitar tuning gear and the spare guitars under the balcony, various flight cases and chairs, and whatever else i've forgotten. all in a room that was maybe 20 feet by 25 feet, if that.

    i'd taken my earplugs as i had no idea how loud they were going to get, but the bbc engineers had the room sound balanced out perfectly. 'kids will be skeletons' sounded fantastic, and the first really loud section (in the middle of 'killing all the flies') sounded like a bomb being dropped in that small room - in a 'surrounded by sound' way rather than an uncomfortable way. as they were about to start 'stop coming to my house', john accidentally wrapped his guitar lead around a bottle of champagne (bought in anticipation of a positive outcome to the football match earlier, and opened when it became clear that wasn't going to happen) on the floor in front of stuart, which proceeded to empty its contents over a couple of stuart's pedals. much giggling amongst the audience and hasty mopping-up ensued.

    i've now heard most of the new album played live at least twice, and i'm pleased to report that it's standing up as well as the record suggested it would. last time out, 'rock action' really blossomed forth live after being buried under the weight of the production job, but this time tony doogan has done a great job of capturing these tracks without lessening their impact.

    'ratts of the capital' is destined to become a live favourite, and sounded mind-blowing in such close confines. stuart seemed to be enjoying his crunching riffing, and barry's move from keys to bass midway pushes the track further out. ' i know you are but what am i?' seems by far the most complex of the new songs to play live - john on keys/laptop, stuart looping and processing sounds through his fx pedals. and then the final flourish of yet another fantastic 'helicon 1'. stuart took the opportunity of the opening section to nip to the loo, before returning and sitting down with the bass. a great way to finish a tremendous set.

    after a few words of thanks from john peel, the first track was 'fingerstyle' from david jack's forthcoming album, which was greeted with cheers from band and crew. and then we went and said hello, got setlists signed and so on.

    a bloody fantastic evening, and a big thank-you to everyone who made it possible.