It seems to be another rainy night in Manchester, but with a small difference: Mogwai are in town, and for an instrumental music lover like me, it is a MUST to go and see them. The ‘plan’ is organised at the marvellous Bridgewater Hall, home of many classic instrumentalists from all over the world.

Arriving a little bit late doesn’t allow us to catch the beginning of the support band’s show, Mugstar. Mugstar are a psychedelic/noise rock band from Liverpool with an extensive discography behind them, including a split with the mighty Mudhoney. Their sound reminds me of the early Pink Floyd albums mixed with Michael Gira’s Swans project.

After no more than 40 minutes of performance, everything is set for the main dish of the day. Mogwai are finally on the stage and ready to show us how the new songs from their recently released album, Rave Tapes, can sound live. And just like on the eighth album, they start their show with ‘Heard About You Last Night’. One of the best songs to introduce a band like Mogwai. A humble piano brings some notes like ringing hits while the smooth rhythm couple (drum and bass) arises.

The Glasgow quintet always wants the older fans to be comfortable at their shows, which is why they never forget about their classics such as ‘Friend Of The Night’, ‘I’m Jim Morrison, I’m Dead’ and ‘Helicon 2’. Almost 20 years in the music industry with the aim to rediscover themselves and always proactive with the experimentation. That’s the main reason for the change of the Mogwai’s sound among The Hawk is Howling and Hardcore Will Never Die, when they decided to play with synths and the opportunities they gave them. And it seems that they enjoy flirting with them because they just keep using those tools for their new creations, and the result is this mostly electronic Rave Tapes.

Songs like ‘Deesh’ and ‘White Noise’, both from their last CDs, work perfectly on a theatre stage full of light effects in the back and with great acoustics. Also the shoegazing hymn which is ‘Blues Hour’, with keyboardist Barry Burns mixing his voice with a vocoder, turns out to be one of the best of the show.

When, after an hour, Stuart Braithwaite (main guitarist) tells us they have two songs left, we can’t believe it. Time runs faster when you’re having a great time, and that’s what’s happened. The first of the two is ‘Remurdered’, built around a cyclical synth riff and followed by another jewel of that acclaimed Hardcore Will Never Die, ‘Mexican Grand Prix’. But when they’re finished, we all know that the show isn’t over yet and they will return after a while.

And so they do. Slowly like at the beginning of the show, Mogwai re-conquer the Bridgewater Hall with the strange waltzing rhythm of ‘The Lord Is Out Of Control’ with Barry Burns once again on the vocals.

Mogwai is a band which has always rejected the Post Rock label, but they are, without a doubt, one of the fathers of the style. An example of it is ‘Helicon 1’, an instrumental anthem that becomes magic played live. Blending it with the powerful and intense ‘We’re No Here’ the members abandon the stage one by one. Once again, regardless of whether it is post rock, instrumental rock or any other style, we leave the Hall with the feeling of having just seen one of the greatest rock bands of the last two decades.

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Bikendi Cadelo

Biken is a Spanish music blogger based in Manchester trying to discover the marvellous culture of the city and to get lost in its endless gigs agenda. By the age of 22 he parked his guitar and started to write about music instead of making it.