mogwai, at southampton university students’ union, thursday 30th march 2006, supported by the magnificents.
tonight was my first visit to southampton student’s union and despite the school-hall style decor and mild rumbling of the walls as the music produced copious amounts of feedback, it’s a decent sized venue and also fairly intimate.
this evening brought to the stage the 6-piece glaswegian act mogwai, touring in promotion of their newly released album, “mr beast”. in support were edinburgh’s “the magnificents”.
the magnificents, in similarity to mogwai, take some patience on a first listen. what initially appeared and sounded to be a somewhat indie-rock based act assisted by large, heavy synth machinery, rapidly emerged into an almost drug-fuelled journey into the minds of the musicians. the vocalist, who also man-handled many of the guiding sound effects, gave an almost disturbing performance, sweating and flinching in his own twitchy manner – resembling some kind of scene from trainspotting. he seemed to like spouting some incomprehensible nonsense ramblings between tracks, but what may at first have appeared to be an incoherent front man surrounded by an odd selection of musicians soon became quite a compelling act, which could only lead to greater things to follow.
mogwai entered in a casual manner, sporting matching green tracksuits (a stereotype gone too far?) beginning with well known tracks such as “kids will be skeletons” mogwai slowly but surely picked up the pace, leaving the crowd participating chatter behind as the music took control.
seeing mogwai live is quite possibly one of the most mind-blowing experiences any one person can have, the music almost seemed to read the soundtrack of our lives, leaving behind the distraction of words and letting the merging of sounds do the talking. similarly to any given soundtrack mogwai went through phases of melodic ambience, washing over the audience in a misty blue haze into sudden bursts of sound, much like a storm would create. it’s hard to witness such an atmospheric performance without visualising several scenarios which could have influenced this sound, from mellow skylines, to spurts of lightning crashing down from the sky. all these images just come to life in the form of music.
i have never jumped out of my skin in the way i did tonight. as the encore began in a naturally melodic manner, it gradually seemed to be slowing right down until the audience were led to believe the show was almost over. suddenly the band burst back into life with a thunder of heavy sounds that circulated repeatedly, until all that was left was a pounding, ear-piercing concoction of noise and a deafened crowd, desperately trying not to cover their ears in fear of showing a sign of weakness.
photos by antony james.