concert reviews

Mogwai Offers Mix of Old And New, Mild and Wild
Mogwai at the 9:30 Club, Washington, DC, Wednesday 10 May 2006

The Scottish quintet Mogwai has made a decade-long career out of serenely dynamic instrumental songs that layer simple riffs and chords into dramatic sound sculptures. On Wednesday night at the 9:30 club, the group highlighted a number of its most distinctive songs from its back catalogue, including the furiously heavy "You Don't Know Jesus" and the droning, angst-ridden "Helicon 1."

In contrast to its older material, Mogwai's songs from its latest album, "Mr. Beast," revealed a milder side. The drum-machine-driven "Acid Food" featured the deep, aloof vocals of guitarist Stuart Braithwaite, while the soft-rock melodies of "Friend of the Night" were gentle and graceful. Despite strobe lights, the songs relied more on warm tones than on the underlying tension and dissonance of the group's earlier work.

However, several of Mogwai's newer songs weren't so sedate: The blazing riffs of the aggressive "Glasgow Mega-Snake" were reminiscent of Black Sabbath, and the final number, "We're No Here," built a deliberate guitar line into a resonant roar. As if to prove that the group hasn't fully mellowed, Braithwaite ended the 90-minute set by laying his guitar on top of his amplifier, and the wall of rumbling feedback reverberated throughout the room like an oncoming tornado.

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post, 12 May 2006; Page C07
.: Selected discography: Mr. Beast (Mogwai, 2006); Happy Songs for Happy People (Mogwai, 2003); Rock Action (Mogwai, 2001); Come On Die Young (Mogwai, 1999); Young Team (Mogwai, 1997).