‘Friend of the Night’ by Mogwai is, and always will be, one of my all time favourite pieces of music. When the chorus kicks in; big, noisey, fuzzy guitars, bass and drums are complimented perfectly by the most beautiful piano line. It is, for me, almost the perfect moment in music. It never fails to move me.
Live Mogwai are simply stunning. Over the years I have seen them in a tiny little venue in Nijmegen in the Netherlands, at the Barrowlands, at the Corn Exchange, at Cabaret Voltaire, at the Usher Hall and in a tent at T in the Park. On every single occasion I have been blown away by their brilliance.
My obsession with their music was born in 1999 when I was introduced to ‘Come On Die Young’ by a friend whilst we were living in the Netherlands. What I heard on that record was so fresh and interesting to me. Instrumental music? Noise music? I’d never heard anything like it. Somehow, as the years have gone on, they have managed to retain their relevance in a musical field that has expanded in size and quality. Nowadays, loads of bands do what Mogwai do. Simply put, nobody comes close to doing it as well as them. They still stand head and shoulders above all others in my opinion.
Now, as a rule, I tend not to love live albums. I don’t know why. I guess I just like a record to be a record and if I want to see the band live I will go and see them live. However, this is different. This is brilliant for so many reasons. A lot of credit for this has to go to Jon Cummings of the band who mixed the record. The attention to detail is incredible; every instrument is allowed to breathe and exist and have its place. It would be easy for a guitar line or a piano line to be lost in the noise. For one instrument to drown out another. But that never seems to happens with this record. It weirdly makes me think of doing music at school. In many ways it could be the perfect lesson for young kids. Remember when you were at school doing music and your teacher used to ask you to identify the instruments being played on any given piece of music? Now, that’s not actually that easy to do. Not unless the production is such that each instrument has its place. You can do that with this record, such is the production quality. Each instrument is placed perfectly in the mix. Major tip of the hat to Jon Cummings on that one.
Secondly, what I love about this record is the cross section of Mogwai’s work that is displayed here. It’s almost a scattering of their career to date. Tracks from Young Team, Come On Die Young, Rock Action, Happy Songs, Mr Beast and The Hawk Is Howling, put together so perfectly to recreate the live experience.
Turn this record up loud. Do it. Because though it will never come close to matching the real life experience of seeing one of the worlds best live acts, it does have an amazing ability to cover your body in goose bumps when listened to at full blast. It’s hard to explain if you’ve never seen them live, but when Mogwai play it feels like their music flows through you. It feels like an energy burning in your blood. It’s SO loud at times but never painfully so. Whenever I’ve seen them live, I have never felt anything but complete and utter joy.
I guess maybe for me, having loved this band for nearly 12 years and having seen them live so many times, this record has a massive emotional connection for me. Perhaps that is something that makes me love it even more. However, I would challenge anyone who turned this on, turned this up and wasn’t moved by tracks like ‘Friend Of The Night’, ‘Mogwai Fear Satan’, ‘2 Rights Make 1 Wrong’, ‘Like Herod’ and ‘Glasgow Megasnake.’ I could probably name every track on the record to be honest, such is the quality.
I took a while to getting around to buying this album but the wait has been completely worth it. It’s fuelled my excitement about the release of their new studio album ‘Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will’, to be released on 14th February 2011. I cannot wait. Mogwai never fail to impress me. It’s probably the record I’m most looking forward to next year.
If you don’t know Mogwai’s music. What’s wrong with you!? Check them out here. Enjoy.