Gig review: Mogwai at O2 Academy Leeds
The most memorable thing about a Mogwai gig is the volume.
The Scottish quartet take Spinal Tap’s maxim of turning everything up to eleven and then add another two to the dial.
It’s a deafening quality that’s exaggerated by their dramatic use of dynamics. They may be post-rock survivors, who emerged over two decades ago on the coat tails of Godspeed! You Black Emperor, but their staying power has been assured by their ability to shapeshift, while also being constantly one step out of fashion.
The opening brace of tracks – ‘Yes! I Am A Long Way From Home’ and ‘Friend Of The Night’ – are glacial shoegaze meditations. Yet while the charisma free band continue to gaze at their sneakers for the duration of the 90-minute set, the music mutates from the genre’s trademark sonic cathedral.
The addition of Stuart Braithwaite’s blank vocals to the post-punk energy of ‘We’re Not Done (End Title)’ is one of their less successful styles, but they’re more than capable of rocking as hard as Slint on ‘Old Poisons’. Standout track ‘Don’t Believe The Fife’, meanwhile, introduces trace elements of electronica in a mash-up of Jean-Michel Jarre and spluttering squalls of guitar.
The drama of the music is nonetheless undersold by the stage show.
The band’s lack of presence means that projections would have helped to generate atmosphere but their one concession to visuals is the regular use of strobes. As blinding to the eyes as the atonal ‘Rano Pano’ is on the ears, they remain uncompromising if unshowy to the set’s very last loop of feedback.