Mogwai - Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Tue 28 Jan 2014, part of Celtic Connections
The Glasgow rockers just about reach spiritual highs in a show that's part lullaby, part roar
If an omnipresent God really is everywhere then hopefully he’s floating around the Royal Concert Hall tonight. If He is, then the rapture will be heralded not by Gabriel’s trumpet but by the sound of 'Rano Pano' (from 2011's Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will) blasting through the ether at volumes loud enough to stir the dead, which are probably only a few decibels above what the crowd get tonight. Tonight's Celtic Connections date includes a mix of old and new material, bringing a welcome look back to a time when the sheer power of Mogwai gigs was spoken of with hushed awe. It's a potent demonstration of them at their best; searing yet blessed with countless moments of beauty buried within the fuzz.
‘Yes! I Am A Long Way From Home’ from their 1997 debut album, and 'Cody’ from their second, both sound remarkably stripped-back in comparison with the cinematic poise and aplomb of ‘Deesh’ or the faintly unsettling pound of 'Remurdered' (both tracks from their newly released album Rave Tapes). But both paces and styles find their place tonight: the older cuts are still delivered with a warmth that befits their elder status and the recent inclusions from Rave Tapes sound, to be frank, bloody huge. The new songs are fiery without being overwhelming, and blessed with unobtrusive complexity that make them some of the band’s strongest material in years. 'Travel Is Dangerous' toes the line between bliss and bludgeon while a pre-encore 'Mexican Grand Prix' provides the energetic high-point of the night, with Martin Bulloch’s sharp drumming pushing the tempo with vibrant precision.
In short, this is Mogwai at their very best, right up and beyond to the final eruption of 'Mogwai Fear Satan' in a terrifying, jubilant burst of light, distortion and unfettered audio glory. After almost 20 years, they’re still continuing to hone their old tricks while learning a shedload of new ones. They can still rock you to sleep with a twinkling, cut-glass melody. They can abruptly still kick you out of bed with sheer sonic force. They are still the undisputed kings of everything they do, and long may they reign.