This week our Brit witnessed the Scots in Mogwai tear down the Union Jack with their trusty broadswords of sonic chivalry. We were going to type FREEEEDOOMMM right here, but you get the point. More after the jump.
Which British rock band six-albums-old can sell out 5,000 capacity venues without ever having had a Top 30 hit, and don’t even sing on most of their records? I couldn’t actually be bothered to check that, so there may be more than one answer, but the group I have in mind are Mogwai. They’ve turned out to be far more durable and popular than all the ’90s post-rock bands who initially inspired them, occupying a unique position in the affections of forward-thinking music fans which has enabled them to keep making challenging music while being able to play it live in the vast spaces it deserves.
One such space is Somerset House, a neoclassical palace adjacent to the Thames which, as well as being the home of the Inland Revenue, is also an impressive outdoor gig venue. When Mogwai played at sunset last week—in surround sound no less—it reconfirmed their status as master sculptors of majestic noise-rock monuments. Newer material tended towards the gnarled intensity of doom metal, which is an interesting development and suggests Mogwai are showing no signs of mellowing; however "CODY" and "R U Still To It" (with ex-Arab Strap man Aidan Moffat providing lovelorn mumbling) were proper tears-in-the-pint moments.
Mogwai even scored a small victory against the establishment: being proud Scots and moral opponents of brazen symbols of empire, they managed to get the huge Union Jack flag that flutters over Somerset House removed for the duration of their set. Or as drummer Martin gleefully puts it, “We told them to get tae fuck!” Long may they reign.