Photos by Cole Leuthel
My first gig of 2017 was Mogwai at the Danforth Music Hall back in January as they presented their score for the film Atomic, performing with the film. Almost my last gig of the year, the Scottish lads returned to the same venue to plug their 9th album, Every Country’s Sun released in September and one of my favourite albums of the year.
While the Atomic shows were down to a science – there’s no room for improvisation or changing up a set list when you perform a score, Mogwai generally are an unpredictable lot, shaking up their set list nightly with a wealth of material to draw from.
The Music Hall was packed but when the band hit the stage the crowd merely met them with a shrug. Maybe the house lights not dimming contributed to that. Opening with new track “Crossing the Road Material” the band quickly made it clear that the evening would not be the relative calm of the Atomic gig. “Friend of the Night” promptly followed to the delight of the crowd.
“Cody” would be the only respite for the evening, the band’s sound building over the course of the night as they touched on almost all of their albums, minus 2001’s Rock Action. While the band has evolved from noiseniks to masters of cinematic soundscapes, the band still can deliver a mighty wallop and deliver they did. The new material fit in seamlessly with their catalogue and the live presentation gave the new songs the extra weight making for some of the set’s highlights including “Don’t Believe the Fife” and “Old Poisons”.
Mogwai have several epic nuclear blasts to melt faces and last night a delighted crowd got “Mogwai Fear Satan” where the volume tested ear drums right from the start and only progressively got louder. The quiet break in the middle you could hear a pin drop as the crowd braced for the coming onslaught. And when it did, the sound didn’t just fill the room, it almost blasted the walls from their foundation. The light show also went into overdrive making for a deliriously disorienting experience and a completely thrilling one at that.
After about 100 minutes it was done and my ears were happy to get some fresh air. Mogwai definitely haven’t mellowed with age but over the 20 years I’ve been catching the band this was on the loudest Mogwai experiences and I can’t wait for them to come back.