Barrowland Ballroom Features
23 October 1999
On paper, you have to wonder how Glasgow's sonic superheroes, Mogwai, can succeed. Led by a wee, stodgy, balding bloke who is encircled by several hairy characters decked in Kappa, they look anything but the saviors of guitar music that their reputation insists they have become. For the duration of the gig, frontman Stuart Braithwaite barely says five words to the crowd.
Their entire set is devoid of vocals, but it's the sheer eminent glory of the 'gwai's music that leaves you in awe of the disquieting beauty the five musicians can uncover. Tonight is the band's most important gig to date, and when the Mogwai team march on to the beats of 'Superheroes of BMX', the intent is clear - inflict premature deafness upon everyone. Martin's ticking drumbeats signal the welcome arrival of 'X-mas Steps' as Stuart and second guitarist, John, keep the steady melody going before Dominic's bass kicks the door in and annihilates all, as waves of stop-start splitting mayhem transcends into all-out punk rock dynamicism.
An angelic opening siren heralds the arrival of 'Helicon 1' which develops into a resplendent swing-shot rhythm before finally making way for more aural onslaughts. Tonight's encore is the post-apocalypse noise-out, 'Like Herod' - imagine the loud bits of 'My Iron Lung' and multiply it twenty-fold with flickers of feedback and twisted distortion for good measure.
The sight and sound of the satanic screeching of abused guitars and flailing arms pounding drum-kits is as alarming as it is jaw dropping. The underdogs have had their day, now let's have some more.
Review was Originally featured on the Alternative Music Magazine
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