The View From Far Out: Mogwai leave lasting effects at Leeds gig
For the past forty-eight hours I’ve had a ringing in my left ear.
Spending my professional and free time standing in front of very large speakers without ear protection has what can be seen as either; a certain inevitability, or an obvious stupidity to it. Hopefully, this is just a prolonged false alarm, and there isn’t a trip to the doctors on the way. But (no offense to any tinnitus sufferers) it does raise the very important ‘straw that breaks the camel’s back’ question of… was it worth it?
Mogwai are currently on tour following the release of their first feature film soundtrack for Kin, which was released in September of this year. Tonight they brought their trademark post-rock to a cold November evening in Leeds.
Joining them on support duties were fellow Scots and labelmates The Twilight Sad, the atmospheric post-punkers providing a fitting tone to start the evening with lead singer James Graham’s haunting croon working through numbers such as ‘There’s A Girl In The Corner’ and ‘Nobody’. With the bands reverb-drenched synth and guitar arrangements in no way disguising their influence from the evening’s headliners.
Mogwai adorned the stage strewn with instruments, towering amps and lighting rigs it conjured visions of Sci-Fi, fitting considering their latest release an original score for the film Kin. The set saw a prelude of one of the few audience interactions from Stuart Braithwaite “We’re Mogwai from Glasgow and we’re happy to be back in Leeds” he told the crowd with a mischievous grin, knowing the sonic journey he was about to embark on.
Opening number ‘Yes! I Am a Long Way From Home’ from 1997’s debut Mogwai Young Team was enough to lock the audience of diehard and even passive fans in place. Cherry picking from their ample back catalogue ‘Party in The Dark’ from last year’s Every Countries Sun brought the night’s most sing-along moment and ‘We’re Not Done (End Title)’ from Kin came across as emotionally driving live as it does set to film.
The most noticeable thing about a Mogwai concert is their legions of devote fans, not many bands could sell-out academy tours with a set containing a word count (both sung and spoken) that is not likely to exceed double figures. But these Scotsmen are pioneers of a genre, and after twenty-three years they’ve truly master the art of expressing emotion from a primarily instrumental delivery. Their use of dynamic is incomparable, it’s enough to hypnotize, shock and portray a whole host of feelings through volume.
The set climaxed with an extended version of ‘We’re No Here’, with it’s tuned down guitar riff that would leave The Melvins jealous. The band left the stage of still squealing instruments behind while a crowd stood in mesmerized unison after a trip shaped in dynamics and effects.
So as the deadening ring in my ear gradually fades, and I contemplate our earlier question further, I think… probably “yes!”