What better to do on a dark February evening than go see one of Scotland’s finest bands play a packed-out Olympia. Mogwai attract a loyal following, and the venue filled early.
RM Hubbert was the support, and was an unexpected delight with his pleasantly aimless Spanish-inflected instrumental folk, and equally pleasantly aimless rambling stories between songs. His acoustic pyrotechnics were something to behold, his guitar doubling up as percussion instrument, with touches of Rodrigo y Gabriela and Mark Kozelek. Unfortunately his music seemed like it was interrupting the conversations within the crowd.
Mogwai have been going for the best part of 15 years, and by the time they came on stage there was swaying room only. Kicking off with 2 tracks from new album Hardcore Will Never Die… But You Will, the gentle White Noise and Rano Pano, it became clear that this is a band whose stagecraft is at an all-time low. Most of the band bar Stuart Braithwaite remained rigid throughout the show. However what’s also clear is that they are at the top of their game musically.
Friend of the Night was an early highlight, the keyboard motif well accompanied by powerful guitars. Less a gig and more of a religious experience, Mogwai Fear Satan had the crowd in raptures and terror in equal measures, as ominous silence was replaced by deafening noise.
The newer tracks fitted well with old favourites, San Pedro thrilled with its breakneck pace and powerhouse guitars, while How To Be A Werewolf and Helicon 1 provided hallucinatory bliss. You’re Lionel Richie and Batcat upped the ante to almost metal levels, a bit like the musical equivalent of King Kong as the audience feasted on heavy riffs.
Mogwai did well to maintain the intensity levels throughout, and if anything the encore was even louder. Interestingly they were brave enough to finish with one of their least representative songs, the electro-pulsing Mexican Grand Prix.
Powerful, overwhelming stuff. Any doubts I might have had were beaten into submission by the onslaught. Earplugs remained in pocket… just about. The feeling was akin to having had a really good scare at a horror movie. Heart almost in mouth, giddy, and seriously impressed. Killian fears Mogwai?!