Even after eight studio albums and three soundtrack albums, the love and enthusiasm Mogwai engender from their audience is surprising. The idea that an instrumental band could ever become quite as big as this would be thought of as ridiculous outside of the odd 1960s novelty tune. But Mogwai are very much the lads of post-rock, who have made a career of giving songs ridiculous titles (reading the tracklist of any Mogwai album is a pleasure all in itself), wearing the same jeans and trainer combo, and concluding every live song with “Thanks, cheers, thanks a lot.” Having released both the soundtrack to French horror-series, Les Revenants, and a studio album, Rave Tapes, in just one year, anticipation is high.
The main concert hall at DR Koncerthus, with its asymmetric juxtapositions of balconies, as if several ships had collided around the stage, provides Mogwai with a suitably concentrated, if off-kilter, space. The seats are certainly welcome during Pye Corner Audio’s set, which consists of long-form electronic pieces. Though some of his last tracks contain rather more keyboard noodling than I’m comfortable with, some of his first songs have a wonderful eeriness, like having a slow panic attack on a bus, on a rainy Friday night.
The stage features the double-eye and purple hexagons from the cover of Rave Tapes, looking halfway between a set from a 60s sci-fi flick and an Illuminati convention.
Opening with “Heard About You Last Night”, one of Rave Tapes more ‘classic’ sounding tracks, Mogwai steer a course that gives equal time to tracks from their latest LP as well as older material. It is testament to the sheer breadth and size of their back catalogue that they can have a song as majestic as “I’m Jim Morrison, I’m dead” as their second song. Throughout, the five-piece swap instruments, are handed an endless series of guitars, and are periodically joined by long-time collaborator, the novelist and multi-instrumentalist Luke Sutherland.
No concessions are made to this being a venue designed for classical music. Mogwai are loud, tinnitus-inducing, Glaswegian audio-saboteurs, who entice you with delicate guitar lines before kicking the living shit out of your eardrums. “Rano Pano” sees the band battle with each other’s distorted guitar drones, kept in line by a strict drumbeat, while the solo to “How to be a Werewolf” bursts joyfully through the other guitar layers.
In these moments it seems almost a pity that we are sat down. Around me are pockets of metalheads awkwardly headbanging while leaning forwards in their seats. But much like Godspeed You! Black Emperor at Tivoli, the seating arrangement means that the audience can more readily accept longer and quieter songs. It’s certainly one way to make sure no-one irritates you by being too tall or attached to their phone. God bless seats. Now I feel old.