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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Mogwai, Liquid Room, Nov 12th

Expectation is often a bad thing. We are often told as children not to build our hopes up, but it's something we continue to do well into adulthood. Music is an area in which we're particularly susceptible to unrealistic expectations (although not quite as much as the English press in the run up to a major tournament) - we hope an artist's second album will reach the majestic heights of the first, despite the memory of past dashings like The Second Coming or Room on Fire; we meet musicians we admire and find out they're arseholes whose personalities seem at odds with the music they produce; or we go and see bands we've listened to for years and witness what seems to be a group of people who've haven't been introduced, murdering the songs we'd looked forward to hearing.

So far this year I've seen two bands who I'd wanted to see for years - Belle & Sebastian and Primal Scream. Thankfully they were both as good as I'd hoped they would be. Sunday was the first time that I'd seen Mogwai and before the show my cynical, negative side took over, telling me that the third time was bound to be unlucky and Mogwai were going to be awful. For me, cynicism is a healthy part of any well-rounded personality and I trust it a lot (especially when dealing with politicians, business people, and job interviewers), but this time I was wrong.

As opening duo Ratatat showed, live instrumental music live can be dull, even when the guitarist looks like Alexei Lalas and plays like Richie Sambora. Mogwai, on the other hand, are spectacular. They don't say much, they don't move much, they just come on stage and play their songs. They don't need to any more than that. The quiet/loud dynamic of Mogwai is something of a lazy cliche often used to describe their music, but it's what drives the band and makes them so captivating.

This was their last show of 2006 and according to their website, the band are making a DVD of this and the previous night's concert. Watch it if you get the chance, but go and see them - I get the feeling that regardless of how good the DVD will be, it won't capture the sheer volume and physicality of Mogwai live.