Primavera Sound 2014 – Barcelona, Saturday 31st May 1

Mogwai – Moonstar Studios, Bangkok 13 March 2015


Be careful what you wish for. Last time Mogwai played in Bangkok, at this very same venue in 2011, the general consensus was: great gig, but should’ve been a lot louder. Right, we’ll show yis, say Mogwai this time round, and proceed to unleash the fuckin’ fury. Halfway through second song ‘I’m Jim Morrison, I’m Dead’, my friend turns to me and says “Oh man, this is fucking loud!” (or rather “OH MAN, THIS IS FUCKING LOUD!!!”). “YES, ANOTHER PINT PLEASE” I reply. Boom boom. But seriously, it’s an all-out sonic assault, bass-heavy, that feels like it’s turning your internal organs into soup. Very bad for all of us no doubt, but then if I cared anything for my health I wouldn’t have drunk copious quantities of cheap Thai lager and then jumped on the back of a motorbike, sans helmet, for a 20-minute high-speed terror ride into the wilds of Bangkok’s Ladphrao district in the first place.

As well as punishing volume, there are three things you want from any Mogwai gig. The first comes a mere three songs in and it is ‘Rano Pano’, which involves the very simple but rarely used trick of every band member trying to play the same riff louder than all the others, over and over again until it embeds itself in your skull. I guess this is why trepanning is supposed to feel so good.

The second is the show closer ‘Batcat’ (if you were near the front and heard some drunk farang idiot shouting “BATCAAAAT!!!” between every song, sorry, it was me). ‘Batcat‘ is Mogwai at their most riffmungously intense, and combined with blinding strobes it’s the most staggering five minutes of sensory assault I’ve experienced since the Loveless tour in 1992. Yes, that good.

The third is, of course, and appropriately enough for Friday the 13th, ‘Mogwai Fear Satan’. A somewhat ironic title – if Satan himself had experienced these eleven amazing minutes, he’d have shat his demonic underpants, resigned his job, and asked Stuart Braithwaite to take over. ‘Mogwai Fear Satan’ is post-rock’s own ‘Stairway to Heaven‘, only without lyrics about bloody pixies or whatever, and a hundred times louder. It builds, then it drops into near-silence, and just when the tension becomes so unbearable it hurts, WHOOOOMMMPPPHHH – this incredible noise crashes back in and you literally feel like you’ve been punched in the gut by a bunch of Glaswegians. Which, effectively, you have.

With these three Mogwai live essentials in place, anything else is a bonus, and with the band on such demob-happy form (tonight is the last night of the 14-month Rave Tapes tour), bonuses there are aplenty, from old favourites such as a savage ‘Ithica 27ø9’ and the always-welcome ‘Hunted by a Freak’, via some of the highlights of 2011’s Hardcore Will Never Die (the pounding Krautrock of ‘Mexican Grand Prix’ and the twinkling beauty of ‘White Noise’), to tracks from Rave Tapes itself, of which ‘Remurdered’ is the standout – whilst on record I’ve always felt it strays a little too close to Rick Wakeman territory, live it’s an absolutely massive techno-rock monster. Rave Tapes indeed.

Next day I wake up, half-deaf and with a brutal hangover, to find that somewhere between Moonstar and my house, I managed to lose my skytrain pass, all my money, and, if my wife is to be believed, most of my dignity. God damn you Mogwai for scrambling my brain with your volume and brilliance. How good? Well, I’ve been going to gigs for 30 years now and didn’t think that, this late in the day, anyone would try to fight their way past Public Enemy, TindersticksHappy MondaysSigur Ros or New Order and stake a claim for the best show I’ve ever seen. Mogwai just did.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.