Glasgow’s champion post rock pioneers Mogwai returned to Manchester for the first of two dates at Albert Hall, playing to a sold out crowd in promotion of their latest studio album ‘Every Country’s Sun’.
Fellow Glaswegians Out Lines opened up the show. The trio consist of James Graham (The Twilight Sad), Kathryn Joseph and Marcus Mackay (The Reindeer Section). The trio had an array of instruments on stage, including electronics, drumkit, keyboards and harmonium, and would switch between them on each song. Out Lines sound was very sombre and Folk influenced, yet electronic beats and samples formed the backbone of their songs, sometimes adding livelier grooves. Graham and Joseph’s excellent harmonised vocals really soared across the venue, emitting so much raw passion. Though their live sound was fairly downbeat and a little on the quiet side, Out Lines certainly warmed up the crowd on this cold evening.
A huge cheer let out across the Albert Hall’s tall architecture as Mogwai graced the stage. The dim lighting and the stained glass windows only enchanced the atmosphere of their music. They opened with the melodic, piano driven favourite ‘Friend of the Night’, adding keyboards and electronics into their repertoire. For most of their set tonight, Mogwai favoured their slightly softer and more introspective numbers. A one-two punch of new single ‘Party In the Dark’ into late ’90s cult classic ‘Cody’ saw guitarist Stuart Braithwaite adding in his vocals, with the latter being one of the group’s most touching and emotionally stirring tunes in their catalogue. By the midway point, Mogwai fired things up a bit, with the noisy guitar attack of ‘I’m Jim Morrison, I’m Dead’, conjuring a wave of headbanging in the crowd through meaty riffs. Cult classic ‘Hunted By a Freak’ had a huge reaction, with the keyboard player adding those familiar eerie vocoded vocals.
Mogwai’s performance wasn’t quite as devastatingly loud and fearsome as they’ve been known for in the past, but it was great to hear some of their most atmospheric and melodic compositions shine through. The lighting and the vibe of the Albert Hall certainly served their setlist well, creating a special atmosphere. But they sure left the Manchester crowd with a stormer, finishing their encore with the behemoth that is ‘Mogwai Fear Satan’. This saw them crank it all the way up to 11 as they blasted the crowd with a dense, triple tremolo guitar attack, verging into sheer Noise Rock territory. The ear splitting power of this song was majestic. The part where it very gradually winds down in the middle, only to kick back in out of nowhere into distorted guitar overload was absolutely magical. After more than 20 years of touring, Mogwai still prove themselves to be a must see live act.
Mogwai performed at The Albert Hall on Friday 2nd February 2018. Words by Chris ‘Frenchie’ French.
Fancy listening to some of the best artists performing across Manchester in the coming months? Listen below for our latest playlist previewing those in town for this month’s best shows!