support from raising the fawn
a few weeks before mogwai silently glided into toronto, i stopped listening to 'rock action' in hopes of avoiding spoilure of the experience. what a foolish thing to assume since if only stuart showing up plucking away on a banjo, i'd still be happy. how were they to top the fantastic two night stint they had at the horseshoe here only a year and a half back?
well being the fourth time i've seen the band, it was great to finally hear 'ex-cowboy' and 'my father my king' live for the first time, and both were rousing highlights to the show. barry did very well on second guitar for 'ex-cowboy'. 'my father my king' is an incredible tune, the live enviornment really brings out its elusive intensity.
they opened with punk rock playing in the background, then went into their first tune which disappointingly i can't remeber due to our over-enthusiastic consumption of gin and jagermeister shots. the setlist may need confirmation for this reason!
a most amazing and expansive set, the only drawback being the lack of 'young team' material. also this is the quietest i've heard the band play, not till the end did it get really loud, but that may be the fault of the venue. the addition of a cellist on a couple of songs was great, but stuart, what's going on with the jacket?
they simply must be coming back to north america this spring, the show seemed way too short even though it lasted an hour and a half. if they don't, i simply must make it over to europe to see them again. this is a mogwai tour to experience more than once.
after a successful double-night debut in toronto at the 400-capacity horseshoe in 1999, mogwai returned sunday night to play the 800-capacity opera house, by far the worst venue in town. sound is fine, but there is not a nice sight-line to be had. the stage is about two feet high and they cram fire-hazard numbers in there. i was pissed when i found out they were playing here.
the show started awfully mellow. 'kubrick' to 'small children..' with the help of a cello from an unnamed female. you knew they would eventually take off though. and during 'xmas steps', it did.
'helicon 1' and 'ex-cowboy' were rip-roaring. during the latter, the whiskey bottles at the bar were - literally - rattling.
there was little banter between the band and crowd, and they didn't quite look as into it as last time. they were pounding back, i think, heineken and some fine folks heckled them for not drinking canadian beer. yells of "stuart is god" and "dominic is god" had the boys laughing.
'jewish hymn' was literally the loudest thing i had ever heard in my life. the trimmed-down stuart - who looks like he's dropped about 25 pounds - looked like he took pleasure in shredding the crowd's ears. he was wearing a very, very sketchy jean jacket, too.
noticeably absent were songs from young team.
all in all, a terrific sounding show. terrificily loud. i hoped the boys would have looked more the part like they did at the horseshoe.
may 27: please don't play that opera house shithole.
stuart's jacket was indeed a bit shady. reminded me of a pasty calvin klein advert. the performance of 'helicon 1' was balls above both the versions they played a year and a half ago at the horseshoe. i think it was at the end of '2 rights..', but the song degenerated into electronic madness. i thought for a bit that perhaps they'd fell out of synch, but it turned out to be an opportunity for barry to indulge himself in some knob twiddling wankery. 'my father, my kingdom' was fantastic - great to see finally see live. clocked in at about 17 minutes, not too shabby at all. stuart broke out into a bastardly smile during this song, looking between barry & john and grinning like a madman.
on the whole the performance wasn't as good as their previous toronto outings, but 'helicon 1', 'xmas steps' & 'my father...' totally made up for it.
great show. '2 rights make one wrong' is absolutely brilliant live. i was hoping they'd play 'sine wave', but no such luck. maybe in may. raising the fawn were pretty good too.
and the award for outstanding achievement in cinematic mood music goes to mogwai.
at around the same time the hollywood backslapping was getting into high gear sunday, the glasgow quintet slipped onto the opera house stage and began sketching out the kind of dramatic, wide-screen rock that should get film directors drooling. it was epic and intense.
while mogwai have turned the volume down significantly on their forthcoming rock action disc, sunday's 90-minute set was one of the loudest in recent memory. with two, sometimes three guitars leading the attack, the five-piece produced a massive envelope of sound, one that made your molars ache and drowned out the bellowed scottish football chants from the floor but still somehow found space for the mournful drone of a cello.
there was no leaping around and barely even a nod to the crowd from front man stuart braithwaite, but despite playing a set largely drawn from a record that won't be out for another month, the group still held the capacity crowd's attention. songs would build inch by inch, getting more intense by the second but remaining within the lines and never completely exploding as you expected them to.
the only time the carefully sculpted mood slipped out of control was during the encore, an angular, 20-minute space-rock reading of a jewish hymn. the solemn melody plucked out by braithwaite soon collapsed into a seething ball of noise, while john cummings stripped the strings of his guitar one by one.
thrilling stuff, and the good news is the fact that by the time mogwai return to town in may, they should be even tighter.
thanks to ned for forwarding this.