Never known to shirk controversy, we are going to start this review of Mogwai’s first of two sell out shows on home turf at Glasgow’s Barrowland Ballroom by saying that we may just have witnessed the gig of the decade, if not the millennium, last night!
To say that the Barrowlands was buzzing in anticipation before the band came onstage would be an understatement.
The gig had been sold out for weeks – as is the second date tonight – given that this is Mogwai’s 20th anniversary tour and the dear green place is their city. And didn’t they just own that city last night.
Hard to believe that the sonic guitar driven soundscapes we have come to take for granted have been around for twenty years, but the band did form in Glasgow in 1995, so a bit like ourselves, no longer spring chickens.
However, you would not have known that from what was about to take place.
Taking the stage just after 9:30pm after admirable support slots from Pye Corner Audio, Prolapse and Loop, Mogwai exploded on to the stage in a cacophony of noise and with the backdrop of an incredible light show which did justice to its historical surroundings.
We say “noise” but a special mention to the sound engineers last night who did an incredible job in a venue that can sometimes sound like a garage band playing in an aircraft hangar. The best sound we have heard at a gig in a very long time and the guys involved should be congratulated.
Explosions In The Sky, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, there have been many imitators of the Mogwai sound over the years, but this folks was the real McCoy in all their grandeur and in front of their home crowd, a local crowd bolstered by those who had travelled from far and wide like Julie-Ann from Banffshire who we met in the bar earlier (hello to all at the Ballachulish Hotel and see you in August on our way to Skye again) and Rachel Munro and boyfriend Aonghas from Ayr, who we helped out with a couple of spare tickets at the last minute.
This was Rachel’s first experience of seeing Mogwai live and she must still be buzzing this morning as indeed we have no doubt most of the crowd that were there last night will be.
We counted twelve magnificent slabs of meaty Mogwai guitartronics before the band left the stage for the inevitable five minutes before returning to do two further numbers as an encore.
We have never heard a Barrowlands crowd demand that their musical heroes return to the stage as loudly as they did last night and you could feel the ground beneath your feet shaking as they stamped their feet, a force not felt in the old ballroom since the hey days of the big bands who used to play there.
Highlights of the night included a guest appearance from Aidan Moffat who will be performing with Bill Wells at the West End Festival’s extravaganza at Òran Mór later today, and a female flautist whose name we unfortunately didn’t catch given the applause all around us.
Mogwai and Regular Music are to be congratulated for organising a collection of dry goods at the entrance for Glasgow’s food banks and financial donations for those who didn’t want to have to carry their messages to the gig. It’s an obscenity that in 2015 Scotland so many people are dependent upon food banks to ensure they get a meal, but that’s what five years of ConDem policies of austerity do and we are facing five more years of the same.
Everyone has to make a living in son-of-Thatcher’s Britain and we gave away our other spare ticket to local man, John, who was selling the Big Issue outside the venue. You might have though he’d want to sell it – unfortunately the tout parasites were walking up and down the Gallowgate with fistfuls of tickets, which we hope they weren’t able to sell, given everyone has known this gig was sold out weeks ago – but John is a big Mogwai fan and was delighted to come inside and gives his ears a treat.
We hope the videos we shot give some idea of how amazing last night’s performance was. Tonight will no doubt me more of the same, with a different line-up of supporting bands.
Here in the office we can’t wait for the 30th anniversary tour!
All hail the MIGHTY Mogwai!
And of course we just happened to find some Mogwai vinyl on the merchandise stall we didn’t have yet….as you can never have enough vinyl.