thanks to michael kaczmer
support from parlor and aurore rien
visit the venue website.
john mahoney's pictures of the show:
the sold-out show at the metro started off with a decent opening act, aurore rien (pronounced a-roar-ree-ehn, in case any was wondering). they sounded quite mogwai like, with a bit of yume bitsu thrown in. the second act, parlour, came off as a poor man’s version of trans am. not enough ‘electronics’ to make it seem different enough and not enough texture to make it seem all that worthwhile.
so anyway, on to the main attraction. mogwai took the stage at around 10:50pm and kicked things off with a nice version of ‘sinewave’ which veered slightly from the album version, enough to make it fresh. they then brought out a woman (who i believe stuart called carla, but i can’t be sure) to play cello for ‘stanley kubrick’. this was a really nice touch, adding a lot to the song. ‘you don’t know jesus’ was probably the stand out song for me. it was truly better than the studio version. it was immense sounding, exploding even more so than we could’ve hoped for. a so-so version of ‘helicon 2’ slowed down things a bit before 'xmas steps' kicked in, with the crowd yelling approvingly at the first few notes. as with the last time i saw mogwai, this song never fails to bring down the house, and this time was no exception.
the cello player came back out for ‘cody’, and she lent the song a much more somber tone. it seemed to me to be played a bit slower than on ‘come on die young’, which brought a very nice touch. ‘small children in the background’ was average, not blowing me away, and not boring me to sleep either. ‘secret pint’ used the cello player again, giving it a softer feel then on ‘rock action’. stuart’s vocals were great, and actually much easier (to these ears) to understand than on the recorded version of the tune. my favorite mogwai song followed, ‘helicon 1’, and it was beautiful. it definitely did not fail to impress me. ‘2 rights makes 1 wrong’ ended the set, with the cello player once again. this is the stand out track for me on the new record, and here it sounded great, with a lot of electronic effects thrown in at the end and some nice guitar feedback adding to the mix.
before launching into the obligatory encore, stuart mentioned how the punk memorabilia stores around town all put up items of sid vicious and not johnny rotten, when sid’s nothing but a rotten cunt (or something to that general effect) while johnny’s a genius. it got a nice laugh from the crowd. they then went into ‘my father, my king’, a full 18 or so minutes of awesome guitar assault. i kind of missed not having the string section as done at atp, but nevertheless, the song was a great show ender.
they played for around an hour and a half, and all in all it was a good show from the guys. the cello player added a lot to the songs she played on, and the new songs sounded great live.
it's now 1 pm the day after and i can still say that mogwai at the metro was one of the finest shows i've ever seen.
once we got into the actual venue (out of the ten-degree air), the anticipation started to hit. the first opener, aurore rien, came on at 10:00, and played a mostly subdued, but nice, set of mogwai and godspeed flavored tunes. the drummer was a freak of nature. a long setup ensued for parlor, the second band, which made me restless. making me even more restless, this band was horrible. parlor is an incredibly unskilled guitarist noodling away to cheesey sequences choked out by his buzzing powerbook, accompanied by bland drumming and bass. i counted the minutes until they were finished.
as the preparation for mogwai began, my friend noticed the massive carton of various refreshments which was brought out. the roadies placed each member's favorite cocktails next to their equipment setup; heinekens for dominic, wine for john, etc. this was quite amusing.
finally, the 'gwai took the stage at around 11:15, and entered into the electronic coughing of the new "sine wave," with barry manning some electronic gadgets in the rear. i entered this show blind to all 'rock action' tracks except 'dial: revenge', and i was quite impressed with all of them, especially "you don't know jesus," which swelled up to a frenzy like mogwai at their finest, and 'two rights make one wrong', featuring martin manning an electronic drum gadget at the end of the song. it was exciting to hear these new tracks played live, but i was so grateful they played 'christmas steps', probably my favorite mogwai song. the buildup in this was unbelievable, and the noise was equally so before an extended stuart solo outro. i'm a nervous concert goer: will they play this song? will our show be as good as the last one? after xmas steps, i knew nothing could possibly go wrong.
mogwai was joined by a cellist on several tunes, the first of which was 'stanley kubrick'. she was great, adding just enough to enhance the songs without becoming a novelty. 'cody' also featured the cellist with stuart singing, which was excellent. the only drawback to the cellist was whichever equipment she was plugged into was buzzing quite nastily throughout, which was only a part of what seemed to be rather frequent sound troubles. the roadies were tending to guitars just to the right of the stage (clearly visible) the whole show, and they were called over by the band several times to fix this or that. with the constant roadie fiddling, dominic and john periodically leaving the stage to modify guitars, and dominic and barry having smokes in the quiet bits all gave an informal air to the show, which was strangely comforting.
words cannot describe my happiness when i read they were using 'jewish hymn' as the encore for all of these recent shows. i have a live recording of this song from a few years ago and it amazes me even in its horrible sound quality version. but oh, how i was standing, mouth open allowing my teeth to vibrate in my gums along with the talmud-flavored onslaught coming from the stage. they riffed on the normal theme for several minutes, then everything stopped as stuart introduced the next variation, which the band proceeded to build upon until stuart found himself on his knees coaxing any last bit of tremendous feedback from his scot-emblazoned telecaster. in the process, both john and stuart broke strings, and stuart ripped the rest out to produce a wall of feedback, which he proceeded to alter by lounging next to his effects pedals for a while. then, with the stage lights shining directly in our face, the band left (dominic and martin had left a bit earlier, after the services were no longer required).
my first mogwai show terrifically lived up to all expectations: the sound was huge, the tunes were all in form, and i got to hear stuart call someone a cunt.