MOGWAI at the Opera House, March 25. Tickets: $15. Attendance: 800. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
and the award for outstanding
achievement in cinematic mood music goes to Mogwai.
At around the same time the Hollywood backslapping was getting into high gear Sunday, the Glasgow quintet slipped onto the Opera House stage and began sketching out the kind of dramatic, wide-screen rock that should get film directors drooling. It was epic and intense.
While Mogwai have turned the volume down significantly on their forthcoming Rock Action disc, Sunday's 90-minute set was one of the loudest in recent memory. With two, sometimes three guitars leading the attack, the five-piece produced a massive envelope of sound, one that made your molars ache and drowned out the bellowed Scottish football chants from the floor but still somehow found space for the mournful drone of a cello.
There was no leaping around and barely even a nod to the crowd from front man Stuart Braithwaite, but despite playing a set largely drawn from a record that won't be out for another month, the group still held the capacity crowd's attention. Songs would build inch by inch, getting more intense by the second but remaining within the lines and never completely exploding as you expected them to.
The only time the carefully sculpted mood slipped out of control was during the encore, an angular, 20-minute space-rock reading of a Jewish hymn. The solemn melody plucked out by Braithwaite soon collapsed into a seething ball of noise, while John Cummings stripped the strings of his guitar one by one.
Thrilling stuff, and the good news is the fact that by the time Mogwai return to town in May, they should be even tighter.