Casual, spectacular post-rock

Casual, spectacular post-rock

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Mogwai played at Kitec.
Mogwai played at Kitec.
Photos: Alan Ip
When Stuart Braithwaite of Scottish post-rock band Mogwai came on stage at Kitec's Rotunda 1 last Monday night, he greeted his audience as if he were saying "hello" to the owner of his local corner shop back in Glasgow. The band's casual yet solid stage presence throughout the set made for an intimate atmosphere among a crowd which clearly appreciated the music.

There was no support band to kick-start the gig, but there was no arrogance behind this. The band nonchalantly took to the stage and threw themselves into a repertoire of undulating tunes.

Drawing in the audience with accompanying outer space-style graphics and perfectly timed lighting effects, Mogwai were instantly captivating. They opened with White Noise, a track from their latest album, but their sound certainly didn't become white noise for listeners.

Defined by their lengthy, mainly instrumental tunes, Mogwai kept things dynamic, with a violin making an appearance and numerous incidences of guitar switching on stage. The guitar, of course, is a defining feature of the post-rock genre, but Mogwai never failed to maintain a unique sound.

Sure, there were the usual sound distortions but the escalatory nature of their music kept the crowd on climactic tenterhooks.

Mogwai, which means "evil spirit" in Cantonese, chose their name wisely: the power of their music infiltrates, almost possesses, their audience, and is certainly a force to be reckoned with. Their cathartic rhythms, melodic and moving riffs and shiveringly good contrasts are inspiring, bold and perfectly harmonised.

Dramatic droning and cataclysmic chimes defined this performance, with tunes ranging from softer, lull-inducing, instrumental songs like Ithica 27 O 9 and I'm Jim Morrison, I'm Dead to more upbeat, vocal-infused numbers such as Mexican Grand Prix. When they returned for an encore, they closed the show with Glasgow Megasnake.

Then, with a casual wave, off they went. It was as if they had accidentally wandered on stage and found some instruments to play. It was almost as if the gig had just happened to them; but boy, did they take advantage of it. It is this character, both on and off stage, that continues to give their music meaning, and ensures their performances are nothing short of spectacular.

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