Mogwai live review from Royal Festival Hall

Royal Festival Hall, London
24th January 2014

Mogwai have just claimed a top 10 album in the UK for the first time in their 19 year career with their eight studio album Rave Tapes. Despite a generally sombre mood which you come to expect from the Scottish post-rock heroes, the band are clearly enjoying themselves and extremely thankful to be playing to such a huge audience at the prestigious Royal Festival Hall.

Rattling through a mammoth 18 song set with just the odd “thank you very much” in between songs, the band took the audience on a true sonic journey – the crunchy ‘Rano Pano’ taken from 2011’s Hardcore Never Dies see’s the audience commit to a light coordinated headbang, while ‘Take Me Somewhere Nice’ and the soaring The Hawk Is Howling opener ‘I’m Jim Morrison, I’m Dead’ provide truly spine-tingling moments.

Very often with bands so deep into their career, audiences favour certain albums and tracks, however there was no visible consensus among the crowd tonight, with newer material like ‘How To Be A Werewolf’ raising as much of a cheer as Come On Die Young’s ‘Christmas Steps’. There were some omissions from the set which I’m sure would have been appreciated by a good proportion – no songs from the band’s debut full length getting an airing tonight – though this is forgivable given the amount of tracks the band have at their disposal.

The heavy emphasis on electronics from their more recent work was often in stark contrast to the heavy distortion of the more guitar led tracks which at times made the set feel slightly disjointed. However, this has become a trademark calling card for the band who have never released an album with a similar tone to the last. Where other post-rock bands have been happy to go through album after album, creating quiet/loud, quiet/loud tracks, Mogwai pretty much perfected this (see ‘Christmas Steps’) and moved on to completely different soundscapes.

Despite their clear modesty, there’s still so much about Mogwai to get excited about.

Joe Parry