Thursday 17 February 2011


Guinness in hand, hand in pocket.
Yeah, not the same hands obviously. That'd be like one of those impossible geometry graphics. You know which ones I'm talking about. Anyway, I'm recounting an evening in the Olympia Theatre. It is one of my favorite venues, and I was there to see Mogwai in concert.

Now, my expectations were, well, I don't really know what I was expecting. I was thinking that a band that mainly writes instrumental music could be quite boring to see in a live context. Unless they've got an incredible sense of charisma or attitude, otherwise they'd just have to be that good.

Unfortunately, none of the above was really the case. I did find it a bit hard to get excited about what was going on in front of me. I feel ungrateful saying this, because they are excellent musicians and they did play very well. But, I think that in order to win me over, they needed showmanship where instead they were unassuming.

Now I am not saying it was a waste of funds, and that I spent the concert bored out of my mind. Parts of the concert were absolutely amazing. Nevertheless a major part of the experience fell into a territory that I can't categorize as anything more than, well, good. I don't know if I've spoiled myself by going to too many concerts, but when I go see a band play live… I want it to be amazing.

Luckily, there were moments that reached bliss-inspiring levels. There were three pieces of music in particular that stood out to me as being better than anything else. One of them where they tenderly plucked away at their strings to create the most mellow psychedelic sounds to set the stage for a sudden outburst of distortion that nearly made me jump high enough to spill Guinness on my fellow concert-goers. Another one where they created a wall of sound so dense, and so real that I thought it might sweep me off my feet and take me someplace else.

In fact crescendo is something they do very well. It is like you are standing in a field, watching a storm come closer, and then you let it completely immerse you. They've got this raw primal sound to their distorted guitars that triggers an association to Burzum. I'm guessing it is because both instill mental images of nature and ghosts in me.

I think my issue with the performance is that it felt as though I may as well have gone to some rich audiophile's house and listened to the recorded music. With eyes closed I might've gotten the same effect. They had a backdrop that they did some video projections on, but they didn't really utilize this to create anything. Most of their projections seemed a bit random, and didn't really add that much. I suppose if they'd put a lot more work into creating visuals that really fuse with the music thus enhancing the whole experience, Mogwai would be an amazing live act.

Mogwai played the Olympia Theatre in Dublin, February 15th 2011.

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