From 'Just The Way You Are' to 'Glasgow Mega-Snake' in one easy Christmas Step

Typically, I have to semi-contradict myself now. I don't think you should proclaim a record as an instant classic, still, but a gig, now thats a different matter.

It takes a singular sort of character to come onto the ICA stage in a Power Rangers helmet, with an extra-large guitar and a wind-up birdcage hanging from a mic stand. But then, Gruff Rhys is a singular sort of character: not everyone can pull off walking onto the strains of a Casio keyboard demo version of 'Just The Way You Are'. But Billy Joel's heart-wrenching tone poem aside, that-bloke-from-the-Furries gave a comedic, yet musically uplifting set in support to the might 'Gwai.

Mogwai are bloomin' amazing. There's no other way of putting it. I had a spare ticket last night and I heard every excuse under the sun to avoid coming - maybe it's me, maybe I need to shower more. I'm writing an essay; I'm developing RSI; I'm not sufficiently familiar enough with the artists in question; I'm in Cornwall against my will; I don't want to. I even heard "I'm washing my hair," which I didn't think people used outside of films about the 1950's.

Yet the jokes on you, people, because as far as you can label a gig a classic is as far as I'm going. Mogwai are a bunch of ordinary, balding, occasionally chubby, Scottish blokes, with - it would seem - nairy a pretentious hair on their heads. Or any, in Stuart Braithwaite's case, like I can talk. And yet, they produce a sound that's akin to a beautifully-melodic helicopter starting up right next you, taking off for higher realms one step at a time, occasionally coming back to rest for a moment before roaring off again, taking you by surprise. That's probably stretching that analogy plenty far enough. But amazing they definitely were, and loud they definitely were. They opened with 'Mogwai Fear Satan', the closer from their first album, which rises and rises until you can't imagine it to rise anymore or your ears will implode. The blue and yellow spotlights sweep around and this beautiful noise just keeps going. And then, when you're at the absolute peak of your noise tolerance, the band go ballistic, apocalyptic, with strobes going off seemingly all around the room, where noise batters you more than you thought physically possible.

The new record that's so eagerly awaited, Mr Beast, will be out in March. Tonight was the showcase for some of the songs, such as 'Glasgow Mega-Snake', and 'Folk Death 95', which find Mogwai once again embracing the monolithic riffs of previous cuts like 'Like Herod', or the closing 'Christmas Steps'. It's going to be ace.

So: Mogwai. Bestest band in the world, get down to the ICA tonight if you can, buy out a scalper, whatever, and prepare to have your head crushed with beautiful, beauitful noise.

mogwai fear satan
glasgow mega-snake
i know you are but what am i?
like herod
travel is dangerous
folk death 95
friend of the night
stop coming to my house
we're no here

dial: revenge
hunted by a freak
christmas steps

Here is that wonderful 'Christmas Steps' in it's album form, from Come On Die Young. It's a typically example of the 'gwai's dynamic power. I'd have liked to post '...Fear Satan' as that particularly blew me away at the show, but as I'm still regrettably on dial-up it would've actually take longer to upload than my time limitations allow me. But such is life.

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