Mogwai with The Twilight Sad at Pearl Street Nightclub in Northampton, Mass. (May 2, 2009).
There are very few bands I like more than Mogwai, so to say this gig was a smashing success isn’t a surprise, but don’t think it’s just the gushings of an over-enthusiastic fanboy. The current North American tour was put together after the remaining ’08 shows were canceled post-ATP/NY, when drummer Martin Bulloch’s pacemaker ‘made a bid for freedom,’ as stated by Barry Burns on their site after the medical situation put the kibosh on the rest of the tour. Since their latest record (and their most complete statement to date, The Hawk Is Howling) isn’t totally of the moment these days, it was a great opportunity for the band to stretch out and vary the setlist, enlisting epic guitarscapes from across their career. The cream of the Hawk material was there; standard opener “The Precipice” along with an incendiary “I Love You, I’m Going To Blow Up Your School,” but it was peppered with at least five songs from their early years. The beauty of Mogwai lie in their simplicity and their power. The melody lines are clear, concise, and not overly clever, and the volume gain is applied skillfully without blowing out everything in a decibel holocaust. Dynamics is what this band is about, and “Mogwai Fear Satan,” “I’m Jim Morrison, I’m Dead,” and “You Don’t Know Jesus” are textbook examples of how to run a rock band in this fashion. I kept leaning over to see the pedal setting for ‘awesomeness’ that John, Barry and Stuart kept employing. Fantastic stuff.