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Mogwai - SWG3, Glasgow 21.11.2018

A mildly chilly evening in Glasgow sees my friend James and I heading to some arches at Kelvinside to see Mogwai. Tonight is a special intimate show in front of 400 people in support of The Scottish Circle, raising funds for women’s protection and empowerment with proceeds from tonight going to Glasgow Rape Crisis and the Nonceba Centre in Cape Town.

Support for the night comes from Heir Of The Cursed, whose haunting vocals were met by an appreciative (and rapidly growing) crowd. And then comes that moment when the crew start to do their thing and the anticipation grows…all the while bathed in gorgeous blue light until a series of torch flashes signals that Mogwai are about to take the stage.

I confess I have never seen Mogwai and have only really heard their stuff in passing, so am a bit nervous as to what the night holds…James tells me that my knowledge of Chris Columbus films will not serve me well tonight (sorry couldn’t resist), so it seems my best laid scheme might just gang a-gley, as they say up here.

I think the greatest thing about seeing a band you don’t really know, is the fact that there are no expectations, no baggage. When you’re a fan, you’ve got your favourite songs and your favourite live versions of them and there’s always that little thought in your head “will they play it? Will it be as good as…?” (maybe that’s just me) whereas when you’re just there for the experience it can make for a remarkable night. And it did.

As a performance, this was one of the best shows I have seen for a long, long time. As you’d expect, the musicianship was utterly amazing but when you combine that with the intimate setting and the frankly stunning light show it became something almost otherworldly. As the music slowly built, every part of my clothing vibrating with the sheer power of it (thankfully I’d heeded James’ advice and made use of the free ear plugs behind the bar), I was faced with a light show which transformed Stuart and Dominic into ethereal guitar wielding shapes, juxtaposed by Martin and his kit being shown in stark outline between the beams – it was visually and aurally stunning.

I stood, lost in the moment, like this for nearly an hour and a half, only moving when jabby elbows and old age (I confess I needed a wall to lean against) forced me to move and then, as the final note subsides, I am aware of a strange transition as the normality of people talking rushes in to fill the vacuum left by the end of the aural onslaught and my clothes finally stop vibrating.

Then we all funnel out to a decidedly chillier Glasgow and into a taxi to find my car (long story…I’m an idiot!), myself and James trying to take in the spectacle we’ve just seen. After much careful deliberation, I can only summarise it as “Wow!”

Review - Chris Watson

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