Almost twenty years into their existence, Scottish rockers Mogwai brought their newest album, Rave Tapes to the Danforth Music Hall on a stormy Tuesday night.
While on record the band may seem to have lost their bite, in the live setting they remain the ferocious beast you’ve heard all about.
The band has been booked into the Phoenix for the last number of visits to town so the venue change was the first welcome change to the Mogwai routine.
The second was the occasional addition of Luke Sutherland who provided violin!, some extra guitars and whatever else he could get his hands on. Third was an increased attention to the visual component, something that I found to be the only thing lacking from a Mogwai show. For a band that increasingly sound more visuals, this was welcome although far from perfect.
Opening with Rave Tapes opener “Heard About You Last Night”, Mogwai wasted no time in filling the humid venue with waves of sound bathed in bright hues of light. From there the band delivered an hour and 40 minutes of sound that at times tested the limitations of the sound at the Music Hall.
For the most part the new songs benefited in the live setting thanks to the extra muscle, but there was a short mid-set lull in energy, where it seemed the band was going through the motions and the crowd was just waiting for the noise.
Longtime fans might have been miffed at the setlist – every album but Come On Die Young was represented. The seminal album from 1999 is being reissued next month so the omission was baffling. It was still an intense enjoyable evening with highlights “Auto Rock”, “Hunted By A Freak” and new track “Deesh”.
For the moments of quiet, Mogwai make up for it with loud, and then some. Tonight the faithful were rewarded with the last song of the evening, an epic “Mogwai Fear Satan” that made me jump when the tranquil soft guitar tones exploded into a crushing wall of sound, painting grins on all faces.
So if it was your first time seeing the band it was awesome, possibly one of the best shows of your life. Fans who have seen the band many times have seen better, and that really only boils down to the setlist.
Two drawbacks for the evening: The already mentioned limitations of the sound and the drums were tinny and were far too up in the mix. Second, a disconnect between band and promoter led to an earlier than advertised start time. Due to take the stage at 10:15 the band jumped on stage at 9:20. A few people around me were shocked when the band announced their last two songs. I was just thankful I didn’t go for that pre-gig pint.