Mogwai - The Brudenell Social Club, Leeds

by Andy Brown Rating: Release Date:

There’s something about Glaswegian post-rock innovators Mogwai that really works its way into your subconscious. Everything from the bands choice of artwork, their often bizarre song titles to the predominantly wordless music that flows between raging torrent and soothing stream.  I remember seeing the dark, striking artwork of their second album Come on Die Young on the shelves in HMV. Along with the appearance of ‘Ex-Cowboy’ on a free NME CD that weirdly unnerving cover art would be pretty much all I knew about Mogwai for quite a while.

It became one of those albums that reached near-mythical status in my young mind (the same can be said about Hefner’s Breaking Gods Heart). It took me a long time to get around to actually hearing CODY but I always knew it was something I simply had to hear.

I’ve gone through a similar process when it comes to watching the band live. I’ve been well aware of their reputation for years, aware of how much I love their recorded output and aware of the gaping, perfectly Mogwai shaped, hole. Yet, to momentarily steal an old advertising slogan; good things come to those who wait.

It’s the summer holidays, fast approaching mid-day and I’m still in bed. Then, I see the announcement. Mogwai would be playing a special warm-up show in celebration of their latest album, Every Country’s Sun, at the Brudenell Social Club’s newly built Community Room. Limited tickets available. I literally run all the way to the Brudenell and, to my surprise, actually manage to obtain a couple of (golden) tickets.

Gig night comes and after a strong set from support act The Declining Winter and an unexpected, possibly unplanned, fire alarm test it’s time for Mogwai to come and take us somewhere nice. Opening with the fuzz-laden riff-fest that is ‘Rano Pano’, the band sounds nothing less than immense. A look that says, ‘I can’t believe I’m actually getting to see Mogwai at the Brudenell’ passes over the crowd’s collective face. To quote a snippet from Young Team, if someone said  that Mogwai were the stars I would not object.

The slow burn of  ‘I’m Jim Morrison, I’m Dead’ comes next, creating the kind of darkly beautiful and dramatic soundscape that the band has become synonymous with. We then get the nights first couple of cuts from Every Country’s Sun. With one of those rare vocal outings for Stuart Braithwaite the band launch into the propulsive pop-sheen of ‘Party in the Dark’, a euphoric call-to-arms if ever I’ve heard one. ‘Coolverine’ comes next, it’s blissful, nigh-on beatific beauty transporting me back to my recent holiday. This is music with scope, sounds that stretch out past the horizon. Music in glorious widescreen.

The intensity doesn’t let up. The devastating sprawl of ‘New Paths to Helicon Pt 1’ is simply breath-taking, a gobsmackingly beautiful slice of post-rock perfection. ‘Remurdered’ from 2014’s Rave Tapes shows how the band’s sound has developed over the years as the tense horror-soundtrack vibes gradually bleed into pounding, heart-racing electronica. It’s the ideal balance between established favourites and the fresh sounds of Every Country’s Sun.

The gig reaches its spiritual zenith with the arrival of an old favourite. When you look up ‘euphoric’ in the dictionary it really should have a citation for ‘Mogwai Fear Satan’. By the time they launch into the songs ever-building wall-of-noise I’ve shut my eyes and completely and wholeheartedly surrendered to the sound. For all its intensity, ‘Mogwai Fear Satan’ is simply one of the most joyous, life-affirming pieces of music you could hope to hear.

The band brings the curtain down with the sweaty, pulverising rock of ‘Old Poisons’ before heading back-stage for a well-earned break. A few minutes later Braithwaite comes back on stage to explain that the band’s drummer, Martin Bulloch, has hurt his leg. There won’t be an encore or, as Braithwaite jokes, a special acoustic set. It would be difficult to feel disappointed though. Mogwai has just played the hell out of the Brudenell’s new room and blown more than a few minds in the process. Finally getting to see Mogwai live was a spine-tingling, jaw-dropping and utterly immersive experience. Unforgettable and completely worth the wait.

 

 

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