Mogwai

support Sacred Paws
author LL date 13/10/17 venue Store Vega, Copenhagen, DEN

Tonight is only my second Mogwai show ever but I have still been certain for a while that it would probably be great, almost no matter what kind of setlist the Scots would present us with. As one of the big names of post-rock and with nine good studio albums plus a bunch of quality soundtracks and EP's in their discography, there's pretty much no chance that things could go wrong for them live. They're currently touring on the back of their recently released album "Every Country's Sun", and thus that takes up a good chunk of their setlist. With their habit of dynamically changing setlists on different shows of the same tour, however, it's always exciting to go to a Mogwai show since you never know exactly what selections you're gonna get. With that excitement, I show up at their almost sold-out show at Store Vega that is no more than half full as the support band begins playing.

All pictures by Stefan Frank Thor Straten although no photographers were allowed for Sacred Paws

Sacred Paws

The evening's support is a young Scottish act currently on Mogwai's own Rock Action label but their music is very different in many ways. It is a kind of lo-fi 'art punk' with math rock tendencies in the guitar work of frontwoman Rachel Aggs. She is supported by drummer Eilidh Rogers and a touring bassist, making the duo a live trio, who maintain danceable African-vibe rhythms with lots of off-beat markings. Rogers and Aggs share the vocal duties with Aggs mostly in front and their sound is playful and happy. Their music as well as their smiles and Aggs' downplayed dancing while she plays her fast, eclectic melodies quickly wins the crowd over. By the end of their set, the talent evident in their way of handling the instruments has the front rows exclaiming their excitement loudly and parts of the post-rock audience are even dancing a little to the final few songs. In the long run, though, the songs they play seem to maintain almost the same pace and for a longer set, it would be cool if they could switch it up a little. For a support band slot, though, it's refreshing to get a taste of something different yet related to the main band and of course to see the spot filled by someone so obviously skilled at playing.

7

Mogwai

Compared with the last time I saw Mogwai in DR Koncerthuset in 2014, the Scots seem much more openly friendly on the stage in the more informal surroundings of Store Vega tonight. Guitarist/sometime vocalist Stuart Braithwaite quickly addresses us with the usual niceties in between songs throughout the show but his voice is warm and everyone in the band smile and look happy to be here. This sets an inviting atmosphere for the show that, along with the few first tracks, calmly leads us into the set. One of them is "Friend of the Night" from the "Mr. Beast" record which makes me nostalgic seeing as that was the first Mogwai album I got into, and I thoroughly enjoy getting to hear "Auto Rock" as well later in the set. The sound mix is good and the band's light-setup with two vertical and four more tilted rows of lamps behind them serves the mostly instrumental music well, especially considering the high ceiling in the venue which is filled out nicely with patterns and colors. For a relatively small person like me, it's great to have something atmospheric to watch when the band is hidden from my view by taller post-rock fans in front.

The more traditional new song "Party in the Dark" that is one of two to feature vocals tonight makes for the first highlight of the evening with audience members left and right rocking out to its firm beat and dancing a little along to its dreamy sound. Otherwise, it's the loud, majestic soundscapes that steal the evening although the set overall is well structured with calmer songs necessarily placed around some of the most crushing pieces. For pretty much every single quiet part of the music tonight during the regular set, there are people conversing somewhere in the venue and resulting loud shushing from audience members who would just like a little silence to really hear the textures in the music. It is a little annoying but the highlights of the show still shine. We are taken through great renditions of the startling "Ithica 27/9" and the swelling soundscape of "New Paths to Helicon, Pt. 1", the latter being a favorite of mine, but the song that really has me the happiest of the entire set tonight is "Don't Believe the Fife". It is a great song on the new record but live, it's even more impressive, so much so that when the title track "Every Country's Sun" that had me more excited on record follows it, it almost falls a little short despite its big riffs. There isn't much time to wonder about that, however, as the brilliant and heavily electronic song "Remurdered" begins right after to excited exclamations from around the venue.

To finish off their regular set, they take to the noisy guitar rock track "Old Poison", also a new song, that has me impressed in all its intensity and as it ends, it has the crowd clapping and yelling for more. When they come back and begin their encore, however, I am a little disappointed with their first pick of "Crossing the Road Material", as it is a new song that I haven't been particularly into. It works just fine live, though, and its positive, hopeful chords set in and have people moving to the rhythm. Next, they redeem themselves with the classic "Mogwai Fear Satan" and this time for the quiet parts, there is almost complete silence in the venue to my great relief. Overall, it finishes a well-structured set that could still have featured just a few more old favorites to really blow me away. The sound is good though - a crucial thing not least with layered music like Mogwai's - and with the band's inviting attitudes on top tonight, it is ultimately a very satisfying experience

Setlist:

  • 1. 20 Size
  • 2. Friend of the Night
  • 3. Brain Sweeties
  • 4. Party in the Dark
  • 5. Ithica 27/9
  • 6. New Paths to Helicon, Pt. 1
  • 7. Hunted by a Freak
  • 8. Don't Believe the Fife
  • 9. Every Country's Sun
  • 10. Remurdered
  • 11. Auto Rock
  • 12. Old Poisons

- Encore

  • 13. Crossing the Road Material
  • 14. Mogwai Fear Satan

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