Scotland’s post-rock titans have drank plentifully from the fountain of musical longevity and continued creativity, over 22 years after they first jammed at Stuart Braithwaite’s parent’s living room in Dalserf on the banks of the River Clyde, 16 miles from Glasgow.
A band that have never seemed to be in danger of losing grasp of their own plot – one started with debut 7″ single Tuner/Lower in March 1996 (self released on their own Rock Action label).
Fuelled as Stuart says out of “a fear of regular employment”, as they wrap up the European leg of their tour in support of ninth studio album Every Country’s Sun, the countdown begins to their biggest ever show hometown show at the Hydro on December 16 when they come back from North America.
Here’s 7 reasons why the show really does merit special significance among Mogwai’s plethora of special moves to date.
1. The history with Glasgow
Having played their debut show alongside Trout on Monday 16th October 1995 at the 13th Note Cafe (then on Glassford St), Mogwai have played over 20 venues all over the city in the past two decades, from Nice N Sleazy, The Barras, Stereo, Mono, CCA, The Armadillo, a tent in Richmond Park (for East End Social’s Last Big Weekend), the Cathouse, Tramway, The Arches, King Tuts, and The Royal Concert Hall to name a few.
Apt that in the 20th year since the release of Young Team, the Hydro will be their 20th Glasgow venue played by our count.
2. The fitting venue
There’s no better venue in Glasgow for Mogwai to do what they have been doing since day one – giving guitars a proper seeing too in the name of art. A venue which, shaped and lit up like a spaceship, may find itself taking off and heading into the galaxy if Mogwai give it enough juice.
One which would them come full circle since their first show – where the flyer mentions that they hope aliens from space will come. Perhaps this time the boys can bring the show to them. And what a launchpad than an arena in their home city, one regularly listed amongst the top in the world.
3. The road travelled
If we stick with the ‘aliens’ idea that the band are coming full circle, then in effect we have a Mogwai journey to a destination in the Hydro that really makes for impressive reading, from a band that rarely ever seem to take a lengthy breather.
By our calculations – thanks to the listings of unofficial Mogwai site Bright Light – the Hydro date will be show 1205, which means they have churned out an average of nearly 55 gigs a year over the last 22 – an impressive feat given their output to date and the studio time attached to that.
Of those 1205 gigs, the band have played in over 45 countries (and over 300 cities) including places like India, The Philippines, Chile and China, since their first gig abroad in Stavanger, Norway, back in March 1997 (see map).
4. The volume levels
There’s loud, and then there’s Mogwai loud. If there was a festival lineup based purely on volume, then they’d be a headline act without doubt, alongside maybe Blanck Mass and Dinosaur Jr. So loud that at their recent show in Japan as part of the Hostess all-nighter, people’s jackets were shaking at the back of the room. And not only does it promise to be one of the loudest gigs the Hydro will ever see, it may also be the quietest as well, if they play ‘Mogwai Fear Satan’.
5. The back catalogue
Early set lists in 1995, from when the band were a three piece, tended to revolve around songs such as ‘Lower’, ‘Tuner’, ‘Summer’ and possibly ‘Hippo March’ and ‘Jazz Odyssey’, alongside a cover of ‘It’s all over’ by The God Machine. Cut to 2017, and Mogwai have almost 350 released and unreleased songs and remixes in their arsenal, across 9 studio albums, 5 film and TV scores, 13 EPs, 4 compilation albums and 2 live albums.
Recent set lists have seen runs outs for tracks like Remurdered, I’m Jim Morrison, I’m Dead, Rano Pano, We’re No Here, Take Me Somewhere Nice and Cody.
6. The new material
New album Every Country’s Sun reached number 6 in the UK album charts the week it was released, making it Mogwai’s highest charting album release to date. As dreamy, cinematic and landscape-forming an album they have ever released, tracks such as the poppy ‘Party In The Dark’ to the full on aural assault of the incredible ‘Old Poisons’ – the latter more than capable of tearing the roof off the Hydro – see the band once again illustrating how their talent for mapping out their own blistering skylines.
7. The perfect support
And with support from (deserved) 2017 SAY award winners Sacred Paws (signed to Mogwai’s own Rock Action label), and none other than shoegaze heroes Ride (a band whose poster apparently took up space on Mogwai guitarist Barry Burn’s bedroom wall as a youngster), there’s two solid gold additional reasons to be excited about for sure.
The vibrant, Afro-beat, poppy guitar tones of Rachel Aggs and rhythmic percussion of Eilidh Rogers – as illustrated on debut album Strike A Match – make for a potent mix in Sacred Paws, a band as worthy as any with Glasgow genes to grace the stage in opening the show.
And in Ride, we have a band who will no doubt up the ante pre-Mogwai, thanks to fantastic new album Weather Diaries. If their set earlier in the year at The Barras (as part of this year’s BBC 6 Music Festival) is anything to go by, then we really are in for a treat. with the new material played live adding fresh depth to their existing palate while recalling their masterful shoegaze origins – check out new song Pulsar below.
If you haven’t already, you can get your ticket here
Before you’re left too raging to cheers.